Friday, August 20, 2010

Idlewild by Nick Sagan

Idlewild by Nick Sagan was chosen as my next book because (and I'm not kidding) the cover is so cool. I decided to run against the old phrase, "never judge a book by its cover" and to my delight I discovered the intellectual humor I've longed for. Score!

Any story that begins, "I'm not dead," has you intrigued. At the start Nick has you a little confused as to what is going on, which is why you don't put the damn thing down (I read it through in just under eight hours). It's a unique twist on the 'repopulate the human race because something has killed off all the humans' concept. And by the time you realize that's what this book is all about you've already been dizzied by the changing backdrops and swirling fun of the characters' godlike powers that allow them to change their atmosphere like one would change their iPod skin. Though not a unique concept, it's a unique way in telling the story and the characters are even more fun. Plus, Nick grabs my heart strings when his boyish character quotes Shakespeare with humor.

What I didn't like? The seemingly downplay of emotion when the going got tough; the lack of grief descriptions and the underplaying of the wondrous world of schizophrenic delusions. It skipped over all the pieces that had great entertainment value and in turn made the story feel rushed. What I did like? The seemingly downplay of emotions and the underplaying of the wondrous world of schizophrenic delusions. Why? Beefing up and dramatizing schizophrenia makes it even more difficult for those who have schizophrenia to live our society. You can't imagine the time and dollars spent by organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness trying to diffuse the Hollywood and media image of individuals with schizophrenia. You can't imagine the pain families, friends and individuals go through in their communities because of these images. So while I favor entertainment value I can't choose it over increasing the suffering of my fellow humans. The main character, Halloween, must have felt same with Fantasia, the hebephrenic schizophrenic in the story, because he was always helping to anchor her to realities when her illness made it impossible.

My recommendation is that if you enjoy quick read-through books and fantasy lands (like I do), and new spins on old concepts, then have at it.

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