Sometimes I hate giving stars out. Why? Because it doesn’t necessarily convey the essence to the audience that is most interested in the book. Here, people that love Chuck Wendig will probably love Chris Manteria’s RERUN. For those keeping score, I gave Wendig a three-star rating for this latest book THE CORMORANT. Fans of Wendig and his titillating character Miriam Black will love the latest installment in the series. At the end of the day, I have to rate books based upon my own enjoyment and the onus is upon me to explain it in the review. That’s why I say, “ignore the stars—read the review.”
Now, for Manteria’s RERUN. The protagonist is a guy named Charles (Charlie) Williams that has strange visions. He eventually uses these visions to save a girl named Jennifer from death—more than once. Charlie’s visions and his relationship with Jennifer are beyond coincidental. The story intertwines between various other visions, other characters, and Jennifer’s past until it boils up into a twist-filled conclusion. The plot may start slow, but it ramps up after the initial half.
You can tell Manteria is from New York, and the writing is benefited because of it. Readers like me appreciate the description and authentic feel of the environment. You can also tell that Manteria enjoys reading popular authors like Stephen King (he even mentions one of King’s novels in the story) because the writing often complements those same styles. So if you like Wendig or King (specifically King’s earlier not-too-scary works), you’ll probably dig RERUN.
A few things dragged this book down for me. The first would be the adjective- and adverb-heavy writing. Both have their places (see Harry Potter), but RERUN uses them to stop the story’s progress. Pacing is key. Sentences like, “a light yellow stream slowly drops out of her right nostril” do more harm than good. Description on interesting subjects are one thing (abundance in THE GOLDFINCH), but I don’t care to stare at the snot in this situation.
The next opportunity for improvement would be the character relationships. Some of the relationships weren’t clearly defined, and others seemed forced—primarily between Charlie and Jennifer. Again, I have to say that a lot of people are okay with this, but it didn’t work for me. I couldn’t bring myself to believe the level of connection these characters had after one meeting, and then the sudden confession, and the push away (I’m trying to skirt around too many spoilers).
The final thing that can be touched up is the dialogue. It’s one of the trickiest things in writing, and one of the quickest things that’ll kill the atmosphere. I’m reminded of James Frey’s book HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL. In it, Frey asks about dialogue: “is it in conflict?”, “is it in trite?”, “can it be said better indirectly?”, and “is the line as clever and colorful as it can be?” In many cases, the dialogue in RERUN does not pass this litmus test. Yes, most of it sounds like everyday talk, but that’s not what makes a novel flourish.
So yes, many people will read and enjoy RERUN. It just wasn’t to my liking.
Thank you to Chris Manteria for providing me with a review copy of this book.