Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Missing

by Drake Braxton
Genre: Literary Fiction (gay-themed)
Seventh Window, 2012
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars (See Reviews Guidelines)
Recipient of 2012 Rainbow Award for Best in GLBT Fiction: Gay Mystery/Thriller Category

Drake Braxton's first novel has hit the GLBT publishing world running. I am at a bit of a loss as to how to discuss it in a review, because the plot is dependent upon several twists that will leave your mouth hanging open - none of which I want to ruin here for the reader. Let's suffice it to say that the book offers a few surprises that you will never see coming.

Imagine if you will a committed marriage of many years, not without its struggles and ups and downs, but loving nonetheless. Protagonist Blain and his husband Manny have established a comfortable life in the comparatively gay-friendly city of Boston. Blain decides to attend his own high school reunion in the small southern town where he grew up, and Manny agrees to go along for moral support. But in the middle of the reception, Blain notices that Manny has disappeared. As the minutes - and then the hours - tick by, his panic grows, especially when he finds a threatening anti-gay message on a napkin and experiences some hostile encounters with former classmates. His hunt for Manny begins the book with a bang, and invites the reader to share in his growing alarm and his frustration as he runs into the bias-induced roadblocks that impede the authorities searching while there is still time to save Manny's life.

Braxton himself says that he wanted to write a book that crossed genres, and he has certainly accomplished that goal. In fact, this book changes genre as the book progresses - it begins being one thing and ends up being quite another. The book is a joy to read - told in spare, straight-forward prose that sails easily along. Braxton understands the importance of a good opening, and the reader is hooked from page one. The first "Oh my God!" moment comes at the end of the first chapter, and that is only the beginning of the roller coaster ride.

By the end of the book, the reader has been treated to several themes and been given plenty of food for thought: about the nature of commitment; about the terror involved in becoming one's authentic self; of the struggles with self-blame that we all share in one way or another; about the ways in which our complex brains make sense of the senseless in order to preserve sanity; and most of all, about the importance of courage in making life choices after tragedy.

I sincerely cannot recommend the book highly enough as simply a damn good read. If you want a great story, a few shocks, and a lot of meat to sink your teeth into and think over for hours after finishing the book - don't let this one get by you!

Missing is widely available, on both electronic platforms and paperback.
Technical notes:  Every writer, even those of us who are editors professionally, misses errors in a book. We depend upon editors to catch them and help us improve the quality of the book. Even small errors in logic (if everyone in the room is standing, why are we saying, "he got up and went to the kitchen"?), confusion as to who is speaking to whom, typos, misuse of words, interfere with the flow and with reader comprehension and comfort. This book could have benefited greatly from some more aggressive editing, and it is a disservice to Braxton that it did not get that. Errors are frequent enough throughout the book that the reader can become a bit frustrated.

Additionally, the final one third to one quarter of the book is a considerably slower pace, and different tone, than is the first two thirds . . . the reader may be tempted to drift away and leave the story unfinished. But that would be a mistake, as - despite this structural problem - the deepest part of the story is very much in the final resolution of the plot.

by Lichen Craig for The GLBT Bookshelf .

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil. Thanks!