5:30 Return – A Review   Leave a comment

One of the advantages of knowing other authors is having the chance to read really cool stuff before anyone else has the chance. And now and then I see something worth sharing. To that end – a review of 5:30 Return by William R. Herr.

“It is no easy road.” So says Severian, the narrator of Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, of the story he tells. Juan “the Monster” Romero, the voice of 5:30 Return by William R. Herr, could say the same of his tale, with sharper justification. Juan is a war veteran in a near-future America, suffering from an incurable infection that is literally devouring his face. Once addicted to a drug known on the street as “jack” – a substance that makes crack look like nothing more than a bad habit – Juan was rescued from the “pit” of addiction by a friend who is later found dead under suspicious circumstances. The story of his friend’s death rings false for Juan, and this is the story of his search for the truth. It’s a story of contradictions. Of a highly stratified society full of people who deliberately seek the darkness of a drug-fueled underworld that exists in the glare of a harsh desert sun. Of a man so damaged by the life he’s led that he should be nothing more than a wellspring of bitterness, and yet has the compassion to come to the aid of a child who is, in his way, as damaged as Juan. He sees the ugliness of the institutionalized dysfunctionality of this world and its drug of choice, and yet makes his living delivering thrill-seekers into, and out of, the world of depravity that is rooted in “jack.” Juan is a man powerfully motivated to find an answer, when he has every reason to simply give up. Deep contradictions do not make for an easy road, but they can fuel compelling fiction, and this dark tale of murder, revenge, and desire for redemption certainly qualifies as compelling. No easy road, but I highly recommend traveling it.

Posted May 28, 2018 by underdesertstars in Uncategorized

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