Review: The Unnoticeables
This book immediately caught my attention when I first saw it. The bright colors and dark, almost rorschach-testness of the images were immediately arresting, and the summary on the inside cover did even more to get me excited about reading this one. The impression as a whole was one of weird stuff in the modern world, which falls into the category of Urban Fantasy, although I don’t know if it really fits into that subgenre wholesale. Regardless, this book like any other had a job to do when it landed in front of me:
- Catch my eye
- Get me to open the cover and read
- Catch my interest with its premise
- Start me reading Chapter 1
And it absolutely succeeded on all those levels. If I had been a regular schmoe, bumming around the book store, looking for the next good read, this book would have had some serious mojo for me to try and ignore for it to not end up in my hand when I got back into my car. But past that point, what is it’s job? And how did this one stack up where it really matters: inside the content of the book. Check it out.
THE UNNOTICEABLES is an interesting book to say the least. Not only is it’s cover great, but what the book actually seems to be about was intriguing as well. Although, what the book actually IS about takes a while to develop.
The story is told mainly from two characters, both from a first-person perspective. Carey is a tough teenaged punk living in 1970s New York City. Pretty much a layabout, swilling beer, and hanging out with his friends and trying to avoid the tar monsters that are killing lots of random people. Raging hormones, foul mouth, and devil may care attitude toward just about anything the world throws at him. Including tar monsters. Katilin is an out-of-work stunt woman living in the 2010s Hollywood scene when life takes a serious turn for the worse after she runs into an angel.
Angels in this world, however, aren’t exactly what the typical connotation inspires. Okay, visually maybe. The whole white, bright, and crazy awe-inspiring, yes. But functionally? They’re way off the grid. Because these angels are here to “solve” people. We learn early on that these angels start popping up, attacking people, and leaving a split-person in their wake; one that is empty, single-minded, and almost alien in their bedside manner, and another that is massive, black, and seemingly made of tar.
Anybody else asking, “What the heck?” We ain’t even started yet.
In ways, the sheer mind-wonking craziness of the amount of imagination in this book reminded me of something I’d get from China Mieville. Lots of stuff that makes you say, “Oh, wow. That’s… crazy. And pretty odd too.” There was also a ton of stuff that was completely mundane and blah. The first chapter pretty much throws you immediately into the mix. You see the lives of the two charcaters, and then the insertion of the angels and the tar men. And you’d think (well, at least I would) that seeing something as whacked-out as a an angel killing someone, or a tar man melting someone, that the character’s life would be seriously impacted. I mean, that’s not even remotely close to even-keel. But it doesn’t. Kaitlyn and Carey pretty much keep doing their thing, and it’s only when these crazy oddities continue to show up that either of them begins to take a real interest.
The best things about this book were probably all the nutty ideas and its intensity. After the characters start to take an interest in these boogey monsters, the pace just flies from one interaction to the next, and really doesn’t let off the gas much until everything collides into one massive mess of chaos.
All that chaos though kind of bugged me toward the end because I really had no idea what in the heck was going on for pretty much the entire book. Neither of the characters tries to figure out what is going on. It’s mostly, “save my friends”, and “avoid the monsters”. At least up until the very end, when we finally see what has been going on behind the scenes this whole time, and then everyone starts doing stuff that doesn’t make sense at all.
One other thing the book was lacking that I was really looking forward to was atmosphere. The cover on the book talked about a “tour through modern-day Hollywood, the 1970s New York punk scene, and Robert Brockway’s own diseased mind”, but I really only saw the very last of those. The characters and their surroundings almost seemed identical in many ways, and because of the dual first-person viewpoint, I frequently got confused as to which character I was reading about and where that character was located.
On the whole, this book was a massive, chaotic, fireball of a book that intrigued me and bored me all at the same time. Because even though there was lots of action, and peril, and fun (Yes, I’ll admit it. Almost like a teenaged-boy’s mind-warp of a story), there was too much that I didn’t understand for me to really grab hold of this book and like it much. There’ll probably be a lot of love for it though because of all of the crazy good stuff the author did do. The one thing he failed on, for me, was making me care a whit about what was happening. And that kind of killed it for me. Still, probably an author I’d pick up again because I really don’t think it would have taken much to make this book just awesome.
- Recommended Age: 18+
- Language: Pretty strong and frequent
- Violence: Gets really gory toward the middle, but there's not a lot of it
- Sex: Pervasive dialogue and description