We Are All Completely Fine

March 9, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

fineWe Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

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The back of the book categorizes it as “Dark Fantasy”, but I see this as horror. Maybe it’s a fine distinction, but to me, dark fantasy is a more traditional fantasy story, with darker elements, whereas this one is about monsters and terrible things. Lots and lots of terrible things. Either way, it definitely deserves the “dark” tag.

The book is about a support group led by a psychologist, but it’s a unique group of people. One of them is a woman who, when younger, had her arms and legs filleted so a man could inscribe scrimshaw on her bones. Another is a man who, years before, was the only survivor of a cannibal family. Another woman has intricate scars all over her arms, and another man sees things he can’t explain in his virtual reality game. Then there’s Harrison, a famous monster hunter whose escapades inspired a series of children’s novels. They’re all survivors of extraordinary events, but all of them are drawn into a larger mystery that ties them all together.

The story is told in the first person, but it’s not clear who the narrator is. It sounds like it’s someone from the group — the opening line is “There were six of us in the beginning” — but just as you start to think you have a grip on who it is, the story shifts to be told from someone else’s perspective, and you’re uncertain again. It’s an effective device that parallels the uncertainty of the story itself, keeping you off kilter as much as the characters in the story are.

I would have liked this more, but it feels incomplete. The story is resolved completely, but it feels like there are missing details to help flesh out the characters. There’s another book published after this one that looks at Harrison’s character some more, but it’s a prequel, not a sequel, so I’m not sure it will help. Then again, Harrison’s character is the one that feels incomplete, so maybe it will answer more questions.

The book has a lot of high praise, but I wouldn’t recommend it beyond fans of horror or Chuck Palahniuk. It’s certainly dark, and while it’s not particularly gruesome (there are some squicky parts, but they’re not told in graphic detail), it’s unnerving. If you think you can stomach the story based on the description of the characters, though, you should give it a read.

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