Noir. A difficult word to define, since so many have opinions to what it actually is. Technically, it’s a film genre where none of the characters have any redeeming qualities. There are no heroes in Noir, at least not in the typical stereotype of hero we see in most fiction. Everyone is guilty. Think The Maltese Falcon and you’re on the right track.
Neo-Noir. Basically “modern” noir. Since most Noir started on film in the 1940’s and 1950’s, it was all very dark, shadowy, heavy on the grey both visually and thematically. Neo-Noir is the same, just set in today’s age. Film wise, think Heist.
Transubstantiate. To change from one substance to another. In theology, it’s the definition of the transformation from bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
Combine this evolving change and Neo-Noir and you get Transubstantiate by Richard Thomas.
This is the story of a experiment in population control gone terribly bad. Take the worst people on the planet, slam them on an island while the rest of the world’s population dies, and watch what happens. Told through seven distinct voices, including one that’s not human, at a breakneck speed, and you have all the tension you could ever possibly want in a thriller, all gift wrapped in about 220 pages.
If you’re wanting an easy read, look elsewhere. Richard’s style is brainy without the need to have a dictionary close by. He accomplishes this by making the reader care tremendously about his characters. Yeah, they are all guilty of something, but that never overshadows the fact that each character has something precious at stake. This is what makes great storytelling, the ability to create an emotional foundation for a character that makes us realize they’re just like us, no matter what they’ve done in their lives.
This book is in no way complicated, or “difficult”. Richard writes each character in their own distinct voice, and manages to go back and forth in time, and does this effortlessly with easy to understand words. All of your senses will be tested, and he holds no punches.
As a writer, it’s very hard for me to review anyone’s book and not wear the writer’s hat. I see more than just an awesome story here. I see massive amounts of bravery and courage. Richard took great risks writing this book in so many perspectives, yet he pulled it off so seamlessly. I struggle with if I’m going to write in first person narrative or third and this guy fires off seven first person narratives and makes it work.
It’s inspiring to say the least.
Yay, my first real no-spoiler review. And here’s my lame attempt to link the Amazon page so you can order Transubstantiate.