Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Review: "The Appointment: Lost & Found (Book 1)" by Luke P. Narlee

Man oh man, I won't be able to get this one out of my head for a while...

It's funny; I used to read a ton of dystopian novels. I remember marveling just how far-fetched they all seemed, how hopeless the authors made life out to be, and how change could be inspired by the resistance of one person. And then (pardon my editorializing) the events of the last few months has brought the far-fetched a little closer. While I'm not ready to volunteer as a tribute, the idea of our country hacked to bits in a battle between the haves and the have-nots, a world where pollution is more the rule than the exception, and people find themselves without food, healthcare, jobs hits a little closer to home for me.

Luke Narlee's The Appointment: Lost & Found isn't quite like that, but there are dystopian elements which seem eerily prescient considering when he must have been writing this. But beyond that, this book is like a cloud formation or one of those Magic Eye puzzles—you aren't quite sure what you're seeing at first, and everyone has a slightly different perspective, but you can't look away, because you're utterly transfixed. And can you ask for much more from a book than that?

The human race is on Lockdown, imprisoned behind a wall which is protected by trigger-happy guards. The expression of emotions is no longer allowed, and to ensure this remains the rule, any form of entertainment—smartphones, music, even photographs—have been forbidden. People shuffle aimlessly through their miserable existence, not making eye contact and barely reacting to the world and the other misanthropes around them.

Jacob Johansen is one of them, but he hasn't completely surrendered to the bleakness even though he knows he should. He keeps seeing these glimpses of memory—people, places, situations—which he has a feeling once meant something to him, but he cannot remember enough, and that makes him both disheartened and frustrated.

One day he receives an invitation to an appointment. He doesn't know who has invited him and what this invitation really means, but he knows he has nothing left to lose, except more time shuffling around in abject boredom and depression. It turns out, however, Jacob has been selected for a "special" project, one which will open up his mind again to what he could be, and remind him of who he once was.

And that's when this book totally takes off. Jacob finds himself in many different situations, perhaps in different worlds, where his life has gone in a wholly new direction. It has almost a Dark Matter-esque feel to it, as you wonder whether there are multiple Jacobs in multiple universes, if these are real memories, or some sort of manipulations. It's just such a cool concept, so vividly told and it really captures your imagination.

One of the great things about this book is I had absolutely no idea what to expect, so I'm being fairly vague in my plot summary so you can enjoy the way it all unfolds. (I'll be honest—I'm still not 100 percent sure what happened but I think Narlee has left some room for interpretation, which is even cooler, in my opinion.) In thinking of the best way to describe this book, I found an old quote:

Narlee's first book, Guest Bed (see my review), also packed a few punches, but it was a completely different type of story. The fact that the same author wrote these two totally different books just proves how talented Narlee is. Not only is the plot complex and memorable, but so are the characters. The book takes a little while to get rolling, but once it does it never lets up.

This may not be a book for everyone, but if you're willing to step outside your comfort zone, I think you'll be richly rewarded, and like me, you'll be ready for Book 2!!

The author provided me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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