Flash Review – We Are All Completely Fine

by Sharon Browning
We Are All Completely FineWe Are All Completely Fine
Daryl Gregory
Tachyon Publications
Release Date:  August 12, 2014
ISBN 978-1-61696-171-8

So…. in the beginning (of this novel) there are five patients and one psychotherapist who meet together once a week for group therapy.  But the patients… let’s just say that they are not your run-of-the-mill mental patients.  Each of them has been through some pretty deeply horrific experiences (if they are to be believed).

Stan, the oldest of the group, is confined to a wheelchair and has stumps for arms, having been partially eaten by cannibals as a young man.  Barbara is dealing with being tortured by “the Scrimshander”, who made incisions on his victims then peeled back their skin and muscle to make inscriptions on their bones – and then sewed them back up again (“I left you a message.”).  Martin, deeply immersed in an augmented reality RPG, wears dark Google Glass-like sunglasses that he never, ever takes off.

Harrison was known as the Boy Hero of Dunnsmouth – a town that supposedly had been utterly devastated by a hurricane.  Then a pair of paranormal investigators published a book stating that the hurricane was actually a cover for a “supernatural intrusion” that was somehow thwarted by a naive teenager (“Fiction”, he said. “Completely made up.”  Then:  “Almost entirely.”)  To Harrison’s disgust the highly sensationalized story became the basis for a book series, which in turn became a TV show.  Now he’s a pill-popping, sleep deprived cynical nihilist.

Then there’s platinum haired, goth clad, beautiful Gwen, who is skittish and rarely speaks, and who quickly is pegged as the craziest of them all.

A mixture of horror, the fantastical, pathos, science fiction, and wicked humor, We All Are Completely Fine is a slap dash rollicking story that hits the ground running and doesn’t slow down until the final page.  Each one of the characters – including psychotherapist Jan Sayer – is as grounded in the real as their stories are creepy and bizarre.  Each of those stories goes off in a different direction and yet they all hang together by means of their out and out weirdness, and via the sense of acceptance and camaraderie that – after a few fits and false starts – develops amongst the group.  The writing is crisp, the action moves, the story clicks, and except for some confusion on point of view, this book will keep you turning pages until the end – and even then, there’s a hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be the first of a series.

Hauntingly dark, wickedly clever, and wildly entertaining, this book should definitely be on your reading list, and author Daryl Gregory is one to watch.

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