This was a blind buy for me. I had never heard of the author or the book before, but I did really like the cover. I thought to myself ‘what the hell’ and picked it up. I mean it was at the used bookstore and pretty cheap, so it wasn’t much of an investment.
Things start off pretty cool with a NYPD diver fishing a body out of the water of the Hudson. It comes to life and boom instant zombie apocalypse! I’m thinking this was going to be an awesome find when the rug got pulled out from under me. See that was just a “dreamie” and wasn’t really happening. In the far away year of nineteen ninety-six film has become old tech as artists can now beam movies and music directly into your brain with microwaves! Now you have an entirely new way to experience entertainment. Izzy Stark is the most famous or infamous of the artists that make these. I wouldn’t say he is the main character, but the plot does revolve around him.
The rest of the book is Stark experimenting with a “drug” made from the blood of schizophrenics. Well it isn’t actually a drug so much as their dried blood that you can eat. Eating their blood makes you temporarily crazy yourself. Stark realizes this would kick his “dreamies” to an entirely new level of scary weird. He finds a doctor to help him out, but soon becomes addicted. He also realizes that he can bring things to life so when he dreams he actually kills people! That doesn’t seem to bother him though, because one hit in he is nuts. The rest of the story is everyone figuring out what is going on and trying to stop Stark before his big Halloween show.
You may have noticed that I didn’t talk about the other characters. Truthfully there are way too many of them and they get lost in the muddled plot. There are characters that are clearly introduced quickly just to be killed off. What should be main characters like the writer hired to interview Stark never get developed in spite of being very important to the plot. We also get a narrative shifting from one group of characters to another from paragraph to paragraph without warning. You might be a couple pages in before a name is mentioned, and you realize these are different characters in a totally different location. Add to that Boatman never makes it clear when the action is a dream and when it is real. I guess that might be on purpose, but it made for a book that is almost impossible to follow. I had to keep going back to figure out who I was reading about. That isn’t a good thing.
I had such a tough time getting thru this book. If you have read my book reviews I tend not to write bad ones. That isn’t due to any altruistic nature on my part. When a book sucks I quickly put it down and move on. For some reason I pushed thru with Stage Fright until the bitter end. I wasn’t rewarded with much. We get a terrible attempt at a lame twist ending and a couple pages letting us know people moved and what happened to them. Pass on this one.
© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer