Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Last Year, When We Were Young by Andrew J. McKiernan

Before I get in to this review, I want to let you all know that I am not a fan of the short story.  I know there are a lot of people out there who adore them, but that's not me.  It's incredibly difficult to build a strong bond between reader and character within a few short pages.  It's difficult to world build.  It's difficult to tell a story that will make the reader think afterwards, or even be entertained.  From the writing aspect, a short story is hard to write!  On the rare occasion that a writer can meet all of the criteria, I normally find myself feeling shorted.  If I'm bonded with the character and enjoying the world and the story, I want more!  It's like opening a bag of M&M's and only eating a red one.  I want them all!  Give me the bag!  Oh...hey...I think I actually have a bag hidden in my desk.  Hang on a second.

I couldn't find them.  I take donations.

I didn't love this book, and it was my fault, not McKiernan's.  He actually met all of the criteria.  He built a bond between character and reader.  He did a great job of making them realistic as well as allowing you to empathize with them.  There were key descriptors to unlock their soul.  McKiernan did the same thing with the world and the story line.  He gave you all of the key information you needed to feel like he'd spent chapters building and pulling you in.

Each of these stories has a clever twist to it.  It's a little on the macabre side.  Now, if you're just getting into that sort of thing, this is the perfect book for you to start with.  There are people from all walks of life, with all different situations, so you'll find it easy to identify.  You'll find your brain twisting and bending to come to terms with the endings of each story.

The problem that I have is that I'm desensitized.  When I first began reading the strange, unusual, paranormal, I would have eaten this up with a side of ketchup.  As it is, because I've gone so far into the world that contains this sort of thing, I found myself able to predict the outcome of most of the stories.  Now, I still enjoyed the way that they flowed and took great joy in their construction.  I just wasn't finding my brain bending and twisting.

If you're just entering the world where the ironic and dark horrors lurk, you will find this book delicately disturbing.  It's psychological horror for beginner to mid-level readers.

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