I admit it, I am biased about some authors. If I meet them, know them, and also love their work, I will talk about them to everyone. I suppose this makes sense, but I have had some sour experiences meeting authors I used to worship, so I am always happy to meet an author who is as wonderful as their work.
Daryl Gregory is one of those authors. I actually first heard of him almost ten years ago, when I had his daughter in my class. She shared once in class that her father was an author. Sure he is, I thought. Well, then I read Pandemonium, and I realized, not only is he an author, he’s a damn good one! I was lucky enough to have his son in class a few years later, and I even invited him in to talk to my students about writing novels and graphic novels and short stories. He was a fabulous classroom speaker, and he even helped students work on a comic in class (see pictures below). Last year, Daryl was a featured author at our PCTELA conference Author’s Breakfast. We had some great feedback about his conversations.
I’ve since read all of Daryl Gregory’s work and have a hard time deciding which is my favorite. Afterparty, his newest, was phenomenal. The Raising of Stony Mayhall may be my favorite, but The Devil’s Alphabet is a close contender. Who am I kidding, Unpossible, his book of short stories is fabulous, too. Honestly, all of his writing is amazing. (He has also written the story line for some of the Planet of the Apes graphic novels.) What I love about his work is the way it defies categorization. Science-fiction, fantasy, horror, suspense, realism, magical realism…he can do it all–at once! So when I found out he was coming out with a YA book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
We Are All Completely Fine tells the story of a group therapy session of people who have all had supernatural trauma. Other therapists decided they were all a little nutty, but Jan Sayer has gathered together a mix of people who have experienced trauma of the other-world. Harrison Harrison was the monster detective, Stan was the victim of cannibals, and Barbara had a run-in with an exceedingly twisted (yet talented) artist/torturer. Martin is harder to pin down, as he always wears his glasses, and Great is a mystery the reader wants to solve right away.
The story moves at a quick pace, building up to action without seeming rushed. I especially like how Gregory does not need to fill in all the details–he leaves some things out which makes it scarier to imagine for ourselves (I think sometimes we can create scarier monsters when we imagine them rather then when we are told what they are). I particularly enjoyed the references to Joseph Campbell’s Hero with A Thousand Faces and the resulting references/jokes peppered in to the last portion of the book.
This is a fast read that demands a sequel (I just found out that the prequel is in the publishing chute: Harrison Squared). I could see mature middle schoolers enjoying this (especially some of the banter) but warning, there is some strong language (f-bombs occur a few times).
Posted by Kate, VP Secondary