Friday, October 7, 2011

The One Percenters - John Podgursky

About the book

Natural selection has become unnatural. Having dealt with the vicious murder of his wife, Edward Caine takes his rightful place as a One-Percenter, eliminating those not fit for the human race. He must fight his instinct to use his role for revenge; he is after those who live on only because of money and medicine. 

The weak-gened are not fit to breed, and it's the job of Edward and his brethren to see that they don't. But can he finish the job before his own mind betrays him? He is an agent of the Earth. He is a One-Percenter. 

185 pages (ebook)
Published on: September 1, 2009 (first published)
Published by: Damnation Books
Author’s webpage

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book to review. 

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Before I start this review, I should explain that I’m a sucker for a good mind game or psychological thriller. I enjoy being toyed with. I like the books and movies that really get into my psyche and make me wonder what is reality and really stun me with the answer. I like journeys into someone’s mind and their skewed perceptions. That’s probably why I loved this book. It got into my head and toyed with my perceptions and I love that.  I read it in one day. With a newborn, that’s quite a feat and should say something about my experience right there.

The One Percenters is a book that some individuals might feel uncomfortable about from the start, as it forces the reader to experience events from the perspective of a killer. While this may be off-putting to some, the sequence of events and the way in which the story is being told is so absorbing that it will be easy to overlook. Furthermore, this book isn’t that long, which forces events to happen at a quick pace and may be read rather quickly.

Podgursky’s writing really should be highlighted. His first-person style is unique and almost conversational rather than literary. For example, I could almost hear Ed’s (the protagonist) voice as he was telling his story. While a conversational style of writing takes time to get used to, Podgursky’s writing is stunning and will easily wrap around the reader and pull them in. There are many memorable lines and plenty of stylistic “wow’s” in The One Percenters. While Podgursky can wax overly philosophical on occasion, it probably won’t hinder the reader’s enjoyment of the book at all. In fact, I read this book as much to enjoy his writing style as for the story.

The One Percenters isn’t quite speculative fiction, nor is it all the way thriller or pure fiction though it is completely psychological. It doesn't seem to fully fit comfortably anywhere in particular and will interest readers of many different genres. However, this book will mostly appeal to readers who enjoy having their minds toyed with. Nothing is really as it seems. While it was fairly obvious that I was reading an incredibly interesting story told by a mentally damaged man, the ending isn’t what you’d expect or predict it to be.

Podgursky does excellent job writing from the perspective of a psycho. In fact, during much of the book I was aware of the fact that the protagonist was probably insane, but I found myself second-guessing that and wondering, “what if” quite frequently, which is a real accomplishment for the author. To portray a somewhat insane character, the protagonist can ramble, or backtracks in his story. During the beginning of the book this happens quite frequently, but as more and more of the plot and the character and his various beliefs and current situation is revealed, it becomes obvious that Podgursky inserts this somewhat awkward backtracking and a few odd side-stories to portray the character’s mental state. As the book progresses, they become far less awkward as the reader becomes more in tune with the mind of the protagonist and the overall flow of the book.

One point many readers may struggle with when reading The One Percenters is that the protagonist, Ed, can be hard to relate to, completely understand or sympathize with, as I’m sure most people suffering from various forms of psychosis on such a grand level would be. While I don’t believe the reader is really supposed to completely sympathize with him, some individuals will feel put off by that aspect of the book, as it might cause them to feel separated from the overall work. Despite the fact that readers may be put off by this, I feel that the author was staying incredibly true to the character and his situation by writing him in such a way.

The One Percenters is an incredibly quick read, but despite that many readers may find it challenging to get through due to the fact that it is an interesting and detailed journey through the mind of a seriously disturbed individual. Podgursky wrote a book that really toys with the reader’s mind. His writing is the strongest point of this work. It’s conversational in tone but incredibly memorable due to its raw and atmospheric qualities. The protagonist is very well done, but can be hard to relate to and disturbing to read about. The One Percenters doesn’t quite fit in any genre, and because of this it will appeal to a wide range of readers but readers who enjoy psychological games will probably enjoy this the most. While it should be fairly obvious that this book really wowed me, it did have issues. Podgursky waxes overly philosophical on occasion and the backtracking at the beginning of the book can be slightly frustrating. Despite this, The One Percenters is well worth reading. Podgursky is a very exciting author and I will wait anxiously to see what he comes up with next.

4/5 stars

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