“Out of the blue.”
Rather an appropriate opening line, given how I found this book – a random request on Netgalley, based on an intriguing blurb. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for! Multi-dimensional angels, evil multimillionaires on their deathbeds, people being possessed by… well, I’m so not spoiling that for you!
Occupy Me kicks off in the second person, which meant it did take me a while to figure out what was going on. I’m usually not a fan of being addressed as ‘you’ as a character – it rarely works, especially given that ‘you’ is male here – but after a couple of these sections I was surprised by how easily I got into it, and how immediate it made those segments. It really suits the character story, and gives such a great opening – of finding ‘yourself’ alone in a car with no recollection of how you got there, which might be less concerning if you weren’t driving! – so I take back my objections!
Alternating with these, the bulk of the story is told from a first person perspective, that of Pearl. Pearl wakes up enclosed in a refrigerator in a junkyard – and that’s soon the least of her worries! She’s not quite sure who she is, or – given that she has wings (sometimes) even what she is!
We’re soon off on a dangerous chase, as Pearl tries to track down a briefcase that seems to open into some version of hell. Said briefcase is also being pursued by a shadowy corporation, and a group calling themselves The Resistance – are their good deeds signs of some kind of precogniscence, or is there something dark in the bigger picture? Oh, and by the way – when ‘you’ woke up in that car, you had an odd briefcase with you…!
I love the ambition of this story, the sheer breadth of not-seen-this-before that it manages to cram into its relatively short length. However, I do think it could have been longer and explored some of the really out-there ideas a little more. As it is, I’m left intrigued by several of the concepts, perhaps a little puzzled still by one or two, and a little dizzy by the speed-plus-scope of the ending. But still: better to aim gloriously high and fall a little short, than to retread overly-familiar paths.
Not for sci-fi newbies: this is a seriously scratch-your-head-inducing slice of something genuinely fresh to this reader’s brain!
Kindle: ~266 pages
First published: 2016 (review copy obtained from publisher)
Read from 14th-29th December 2015
My rating: 7/10