The recommended WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE offers something a little different
Bookaneer offers insightful commentary on Daryl Gregory’s We Are All Completely Fine.
The novella is a little unusual in everything from perspective to structure. We Are All Completely Fine starts each chapter in first person plural, spoken as if by an unidentified member of the group, then switches to third person limited. I’ve only seen this style a few times, but I think it adds an interesting effect here, strengthening the sense of the group as a sentient entity in its own right. As one might expect, much of the novella is simply the slow unravelling of the characters’ stories. The psychological aspect is thoughtful without ever becoming pretentious, and I loved the occasional glints of humour. While some of the characters never quite became three-dimensional for me, others came to life. One of the surprisingly empathetic characters, to me, was Stan, the elderly amputee who lost so much that he turned his victimhood into his identity. He is a talker, but he uses his words, his stories and complaints and pleas for attention, as a shield. Unsurprisingly, my favourite of the bunch was the taciturn, saturnine, guilt-ridden, self-destructive Harrison. Harrison’s interaction with the psychologist are constantly entertaining.
In fact, the biggest drawback, in my opinion, was that it was a novella rather than a novel, but at least the short length meant that I was able to enjoy a reread. I would love to revisit the characters and world, and I have high hopes of a sequel (pretty please?). We Are All Completely Fine is not a good fit for everyone; after all, its major theme is coming to terms with horror-movie-style trauma. There are graphic scenes and extensive discussions of mutilation, and I’d definitely slap a trigger warning on it. However, if you’re looking for something a little different and with a psychological bent, I’d definitely recommend it.
Read the rest of the review at Bookaneer.
For information on We Are All Completely Fine, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story.