Borrowing Time from an Alternate Dimension

Schism 333x500It’s taken me too long to write this. Last Friday, I loaned some digital real estate to Laura Maisano. Many weeks ago, I read her new book, Schism.

Then life happened. I got pulled away by bundles and Boy Scouts and the passing of loved ones, all while my amazing wife continues to juggle a more than full time job and a grueling MBA program. Somewhere in there, I was finding time to write, revise, edit – my ambitious publishing schedule this year has yet to defeat me, but its another point of precarious balance.

I’ve had to make some cuts. This review is not one of them.

After so long, so many interruptions, and so much word count, I lost a sense of what I wanted to say about Larua’s book. But I carved out a moment today, last minute and on the eve of her launch party, and things came flooding back.

To start, and I hate it when people start reviews this way, Schism doesn’t sound like a book I would normally read. The blurb gives a solid sense of a star-crossed romance. Romance, as it is often depicted in genre stories, isn’t my thing. Sappy, sticky sweet, or cloyingly carnal – most often it comes off as fake to me.

Look, I’m a guy and I like guy things, even if it isn’t particularly popular to do so. Cut to the chase and tell me a story without getting derailed by the love interests and mimicking whatever NA bestsellers are “supposed” to offer. And that’s precisely what Schism does.

Laura does a great job of not having her protagonists fret, or pine, or gush about each other. There aren’t pages and pages of getting lost in either’s headspace as they try to cope with feelings or plan out their next secret rendezvous. When they are apart and thinking of each other or together and trying not to let their emotions get the best of them, it feels real.

Under this believable connection between Gabe and Lea lies an interesting world – or two. A parallel dimension in fact. Here live beings who are monstrous in form, but it is their all too human ambition and tribalism which makes them truly deadly.

But they aren’t all monsters. (Gabe’s shadowy past can be traced there – not a spoiler, this is in the blurb!) However, this dimension does cross paths with earth in a dangerous way which could spell disaster for both of their worlds. Gabe and Lea are naturally key to making sure this doesn’t happen.

While the parallel nature of the “fourth dimension”, as Lea calls it, makes for some interesting conflict and commentary on our own world, where it doesn’t quite work for me is a matter of personal taste. To partly quote the book’s author: I like weird shit.

To me an alternate dimension could be even weirder than the one depicted in Schism. But the familiarity of things in the Fourth Dimension does keep the flow of the narrative going. Still, I couldn’t help but feel there were a few missed opportunities for giving the place more personality. (I’m sure most people will disagree – why muddy a perfectly good story?)

Schism is a fun read and worth your time to explore. I’m particularly stoked that it’s yet another novel about characters who have recently made the transition into adulthood and are struggling with the fallout. Lea and Gabe both wrestle with grown-up issues without an overdose of angst but with plenty of conflict driving uncertainty. Wrestle with everyday problems and save a dimension or two along the way – I’m down with that and interested to see how their future unfolds in the next book.

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