Whoops! Got a bit carried away this week and allowed myself to get overloaded again. It’s an easy trap to fall into. So is playing around with photo sites, as I talked about in this week’s creativity post. As a result, the book review is going up a little late, but I hope you’ll forgive me. The book under review this time isn’t even released yet, but you can pre-order it for Sunday delivery. Hope you’ll all sit back and enjoy a bit of feedback about Adan Ramie’s newest novella. Share the link and help your fellow WOW writer out!
Book Review: Maladaption by Adan Ramie
Keep in mind the name of the book when reading this one. It doesn’t make any promises toward a happy ending and you shouldn’t expect any. Adan is also concerned that you are properly warned, this title contains highly sensitive topics – almost explicit sex (the door is closed after you have no doubts about what’s going on), rape, violence, and for those who group it among things that should be warned about, lesbian love. There are three main characters: Malena “Lee” Barsten, a grown-up foster kid trying to survive the mean streets; Ruby Isles, a cherished daughter trapped in an abusive marriage; and Harrison “Harry” Thresher, the detective trying to save them both.
What I liked about this book
This was another departure away from my usual reading choices in several ways. As a crime novel, it had all the dark elements I would expect of something of this genre. We have a hardened detective with a soft spot hidden not far below the surface, a cynical street kid on her own trying to figure out what to do with her life, and a battered woman struggling to escape without a clue as to how. There’s also a nice Thelma & Louise vibe happening through the story, add extra violence and extra passion, as Lee and Ruby try to keep themselves alive and Harry tries to figure out the connections. Adan does a nice job of keeping her hardened characters hard and her soft character soft while still allowing for personal nuances and keeps the action flowing while cycling through the three connected stories.
What was difficult about this book
To be fair, the short length of this book didn’t allow for much development of secondary characters, but the male characters in this story were not as well-drawn. It brought up an interesting perspective for me in that it uncovered a hidden assumption I had. I was going to write about how the only heterosexual character in the book was the least concrete and realized how much that is the case with, for lack of a better term, heterosexual books when it comes to homosexual characters or characters with “alternative lifestyles.” In most of the books I read, any character who doesn’t fall into the strictly heterosexual model are weakly drawn and highly periphery characters if they appear at all. It would be better to criticize the other books for not attempting to convey a more accurately diverse world. Having said that and with full acknowledgment that almost every other book on the shelf suffers from the same malady, Adan’s book still falls into the trap of a presenting a pretty monotone world sexually speaking. She just does it from a different perspective than I’m used to seeing the world and does it well enough that these deeper ideas came bubbling forward. While not a negative for the book, it’s always a bit difficult to consider your own blind insensitivities.
Adan Ramie provides a deceptively simple crime story with the potential to pack a solid punch to your own understanding. With well-paced driving action, heavy violence, some endearing love scenes, and characters that keep you guessing until the end, Adan keeps you reading but never promises a happy ending. The Thelma & Louise vibe will hit you somewhere around mid-book, but this is not a copy-cat kind of story. Adan takes it up a notch in several aspects of the story with a twist and a tweak just to make it interesting. I’m profoundly moved by the opportunity to review the book prior to its release both at receiving Adan’s trust, something I feel for all of the authors I review, and in the fact that the process of reviewing it gave me some valuable insights. As with last week and the caveat that this is not a genre I read much of, I’m going to give this one 4 out of 5 stars. I hope you’ll read it and let me know what you think.