Original review posted on GR:
I can't decide if this is a giant mind-fuck or a giant cluster-fuck. Maybe it's a giant cluster-fuck of mind-fuck...
Here's my reaction I wrote as I read the sample (first 20%, I think):
O_O I want this book.
So, I was reading the sample and it was interesting/weird, the early interactions with The Unknown were rather intense, and then BAM. “Psychological conditioning now in force.”
Man after my own heart.
It's rare that I get to indulge my passion for behavioral engineering, so this was awesome. I might expound upon some of the psychological points later, but they're cleverly designed.
Someone who knows him, knows him well enough to know how he'd react to being told what not to do. Or at least, someone who knows people and can recognize the ilk.
Either that or an interesting way of making it NOT an order. Start with simple things, make him used to reacting positively to "don't," then gradually move on to bigger things.
IN ADDITION, IT'S BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE IT CAN WORK BOTH WAYS. "Don't...forget him." Is that an order or a reverse of one?
After reading, I think this book is definitely really complex and shit.
I rather like that there's an element of intrigue and also of the whole psychological conditioning thing. I just kept feeling like there was something I was missing, some part that, while not completely vital, is still pretty important. It was definitely interesting in that the whole thing seemed to keep me just enough off-kilter that I didn't really feel like I could predict anything, but not so off-kilter that I became horribly confused and gave up.
4 stars, though, because I thought the ending was just...weird, even given everything that had happened. Not entirely sure if I mean the resolution or just the ending scene, though...
I guess I never did give it 4 stars. ...Well, there must have been a reason I gave it 5 stars, right? I'll let it lie :D
There is an HEA of sorts. Maybe more of an HFN. I think I'm still a bit mind-boggled by the entire thing.
Actually, I feel like the entire dynamics changed after the sample ended. I got a certain feel for the book and established that in my head as "what the book's like," but in the remaining 80%, so much other stuff happened that I never really got a chance to wrap my mind around. Perhaps it was because of the false illusion of finality the sample presented by reaching an end...
Okay, let's see if I can organize my thoughts better more holistically.
The head-hopping between Jack and Jan gets a little confusing at times and that also serves to throw the reader a bit off balance (but I feel like that might have been the point). It wasn't that it wasn't good - it was and gave nice insights. It was just...unbalancing.
This actually seems very non-fiction-like BECAUSE of all that unsettling stuff. If I were to categorize this, I'd say it's actually something like reverse dramatic irony. The characters have information that the reader doesn't have and act upon that, but if the reader were to go back and reread the previous parts after certain pieces of information were revealed, the reader would see that the actions the characters did were indeed legitimate. I'd call it foreshadowing except for some reason, foreshadowing is always really obvious (at least to me).
Okay, it's definitely an HFN because many issues explored (especially character-based-issues) aren't magically resolved. But then, that's kind of what real life is like, huh?
I guess it's unsettling in a "fear of ambiguity" sort of way. It's not like other books where you can predict what's going to happen. Actually, if it even arrives at a point where you can, I, at least, had been so unsettled by the previous part I really couldn't.
Quite a clever little psychological piece, this one is. Not just with the characters but apparently with the reader as well.