I put it on my TBR list when it first came out, but, well, the TBR list is long and money is tight … so when it went on sale I grabbed it, buoyed by the fervor on Twitter, and it delivered.
Here’s the thing. About halfway through I realized: this is the most realistic depiction of divinity that I have yet encountered. By divinity I’m thinking Greek pantheon-esque, those beings who are at once like-us and inscrutable, fuckable yet operating on a vastly different moral and emotional gradient. That’s what Hawkins has created here: he lets us inhabit that kind of body, lets us see how they move through our world when so much of what we value just doesn’t register for them at all. Some of the details are purely batshit, a hair’s shy of caricature, yet he stays just within the bounds of believability and it feels right. One character wears a helmet made of accrued dried blood and a lavender tutu, and it feels like it should read as Wes Anderson’s Nightmare on Elm Street, but in the context of the story it feels utterly appropriate. I have a lot of half-formed thoughts about narrative authority which I have yet to quantify, but I know it when I see it.
And there’s really two stories here, and one has a little less energy than the other … but these are quibbles. No book is perfect, but this one was Very Good, which is all any author can hope for. Everything past that is in the eye of the beholder.
I want to go back through to look more closely at the characterization, but this book now holds the record for the number of times I have simultaneously giggled while also feeling horrified AND thinking both ewww and WT everlasting F, all at once. I might need a few spins on a plain ol’ merry-go-round before I ride this coaster again. But dude, what a ride. Highly recommend.