“He had nightmares: the world burned, and he didn’t want to see that there was more to all this than simple coincidence…”
The New Flesh, by Keith Deininger
DarkFuse, June 2013
180 pages (ebook)
When Jake, a shy fourth grader, starts a fire in the woods behind his school that gets away from him, he’s punished and forgiven. But his life is never the same. Three years after the incident, the dreams begin. Dreams of flames and a strange creature Jake calls The Melting Man. Waiting and watching with an insidious grin, it lures him deeper and deeper into his darkest fears, and closer to an otherworld of fire and torment. And then, Jake begins to see The Melting Man wherever he goes.
Come with me, Jake… Come and see…
As his dreams bleed into waking life, Jake realizes he’s being dragged toward a very real apocalypse, and that The Melting Man’s powers are growing stronger. Asleep, awake, or trapped between the two, Jake must fight to understand not only who and what The Melting Man is and what the dreams mean, but how this creature and Jake’s mysterious family legacy ties into a disturbing, violent and enigmatic film associated with his father, a failed screenwriter.
But there may be no way to stop what has already begun… because this is a new nightmare… a new terror… a new Flesh…
*** I requested this review copy through NetGalley. ***
This book is a perfect example of liking the journey more than the destination. While not quite as gripping as F9 (which I reviewed yesterday), it did keep me interested and curious. Strange things are happening, not just to Jake, but also to each of his parents, and I kept coming up with and then rejecting theories as to how it all tied together. I wasn’t quite satisfied by the ultimate explanation… not that it was incomplete or didn’t hold together, but I just wanted something… else.
But then I got to thinking… is there any explanation that would have satisfied me? Or is it the unavoidable act of explaining things at all that breaks the magic? Like in the movies, once you see the monster it loses some of its power over you. It’s the unknown that’s the most frightening… or, in my case here, the most interesting.
I don’t know if it’s that, or if I’m just picky, but I often come away from the more imaginative novels with this feeling that they didn’t quite get it “right”… whatever “right” is.
What I did like about the book, what it did very well, was blurring the line between what’s real and what’s imagined, and using a child as the main character — while not unique by any means — is a perfect way to emphasize that confusion. Because suddenly we’re in a world where the monster in the closet might actually be real, despite all the adults insisting that it’s not. In the real world, as a child grows up they slowly come to terms with this. But Jake, no matter how much he tries, can’t dismiss these things as just dreams or just his imagination. He knows they’re real.
While the book is a little more disturbing and twisted than the ones I usually enjoy, I couldn’t help being pulled into the story. It didn’t blow me away, but it did allow me to lose myself while I was reading it.
The New Flesh is available in both print and Kindle formats (sorry, non-Kindle ereaders).
Does this sound like something you’d pick up? When an ending falls flat or doesn’t live up to your expectations, how does that color your response to the book?