Urbantasm: the dying city: book one
The prologue sets an unusual beginning as the author pens the following sentence: I must become the Antichrist. The narrator describes in vivid detail the depressing, the decrepit and unappealing urban setting as he discusses ant thinks about how God abandoned Drake and the narrator of this short yet important beginning and his tribe.
The story moves to another time and we meet a group of recalcitrant teens each aiming to prove something and outdo their friends and others. At this point we meet our narrator John Bridge who has a definite plan in mind to hook up with the most popular girl in the eighth grade and become one of the most popular boys in Radcliffe Junior High.
John is now in possession of the sunglasses and will learn just how they will affect his plan and his life in a way he might not be able to fully understand or handle. Things around him would turn blue and he would see the wiry in a unique and different way. Living in Akawe in 1993 was different and disturbing. Starting with what happened to Drake is what the author calls a Rust Belt phantom of shock as five teens fly off a roof of an abandoned hospital and somehow survive falling into the parking lot below under the influence of a drug called O-Sugar. Drake is the only survivor. Supplying this O-Sugar to his friends for their test flight off the roof.
The friends came from different backgrounds and Chuck at 12 was all alone and basically had nowhere to go. Adam and John had their own plans about which girl they would snag but the bulk of the story deals with their plan, his journeys with the blue sunglasses and not focused on what happened to Drake.
John and his friends are different than most you might meet in other places. They are always looking for acceptance, fighting to just survive as gangs’ members challenge them, fight them and this town is not rich, poor in most places and families are just struggling to survive. His friends are Chuck and Adam and each one is hoping to get the attention of an eighth-grade girl that’s part of their plan. Even his birthday is not a happy event as his father wants to include his cousin Michael and John never seems to understand the problems of others just fixated on his own. A town where no one seems happy, where the kids are always in conflict with each other friend or foe, where
John is our narrator who relates all the events as they happen within his mind. Someone seems to be stalking him as a man is constantly questioning where he got the sunglasses. A town that is fighting just to survive and kids in school and at home that can’t seem to find a happy medium within their own communities. Each character lives in a different section and each one has his/her own difficulties with just growing up. John and his friends are looking for answers that they should have to search for as they are trying to do adult things in a child’s body. The teachers in the school some good others just there are not or do not seem aware of the issues that are faced by these teens.
Through his glasses John sees the world in many distorted ways and yet at times he gets a clearer picture about people He and Selby wander off and meet Chalky the head of a white supremist group just trying to create a better life for his people. Racism, prejudice, hate, religious beliefs and a young teen who cannot seem to find his place in the world. Dealing with friends, adults, family and the truth behind why those kids enacted their suicide pact the night before school began is a central part of what he is searching for not understanding what role O’Sugar played. Even being offered it by this Chalky at least Selby was wise enough to realize the dangers. People from different backgrounds and cultures as well as economic difference seem to put down each other and different classes of people cannot seem to meld. Insults rise, threats, appearances matter when it comes to which girl is worth the trouble as the author brings these issues to light.
This is a dying city with so much horror and these teens are trying to find their places in the world and yet they flounder in many ways. The story is presenting the rough side of both the adults and the teens, it is disturbing in many ways the landscape and the town is struggling to survive as are the teens that wonder into different places in the city. Some consider this a coming of age novel in a setting that is dark, dank and at times frightening. The attitude of the teens is not that different from those today that we see and the town of Akawe comes to life in every scene but through the eyes of each character in his/her own way.
Chuck John our narrator, Adam and even the girls use inappropriate language as the main means of expressing themselves, trying to be adult yet reverting to their childhood ways. Anger, decay and the mystery behind O’Sugar hangs in the balance throughout the novel.
The significance of the glasses helps the reader understand at times what a distorted picture of events John relates as ghosts appear and disappear with the right sunglasses, madmen, knives and music that John has never heard and learns to understand.
John reasons out his own rationale for his actions and events. He defends his motives and somehow battles with his friends losing sight of their feelings and needs. Selby just wants to be a part of this rag tag group that often act like vagabonds searching for identity and looming for new worlds to explore at the expense of anyone that stands in their way. Teens of different racial backgrounds and racial slurs often heard and yet deep down they are all the same with outer shells that allow their differences to be seen on the outside but not within . The sunglasses help John block out the ghost, the things he wants to forget but in reality when he sees the world through his own eyes he never sees that clearly what the effect of his actions and words have on other people and neither does his friends. The final scenes are quite compelling as he and several others wind up wandering the streets hoping to find their way back home . Just where will life John? Will he mature and realize actions are harsh at times but words can really sting as the author leaves us wondering if this small town will ever find peace, will the gangs fight it out and will friendships end and will life be what each one wants. Characters that are fractured and flawed and teens just trying to live up to their own expectations. Trying to learn that they should not react to what others express about them is at the basis for this novel as all of the characters seem to want so type of justification that they matter, are wanted and can live in Urbantasm a dying city.
Fran Lewis just reviews