Sunday, August 25, 2013

Draw the Dark (review)

4/5 stars

Draw the Dark (Goodreads | Amazon) is gritty, original and unnerving.  I'm going to be honest with you.  It's been a couple of months since I've listened to the audiobook.  I hate myself for procrastinating this review.  However I really liked this book and want other people to read it so I'm reviewing it anyways.

Christian Cage is a bit of an outcast.  After both his parents disappear, he turns to art as a coping mechanism.  He draws obsessively, painting and re-painting the walls of his bedroom, continuing to draw the mother who left him behind.  However, his drawings seem to be something more than just pictures, especially when he starts drawing memories and feelings that aren't his own. While working in a nursing home, Christian discovers the last remaining Jew in Winter, Wisconsin and begins to draw a dark history that the town has tried to forget.

As a reader you're never sure what's real or what's imagined.  Christian is a questionably reliable narrator who doesn't even trust his own memories or judgement. The book is set very much in the real world, with interesting World War II history.  In all the books I've read or movies I've watched I've never encountered this slice of WWII history (and for me that alone is enough to recommend the book).  The book reads like a dark contemporary, yet there's fantasy underlying the story.  This blending of the real and the unreal is what makes this book for me.  The book is creepy and unpredictable, and you're never quite sure what's going to happen next.

This story is weird, Draw the Dark is a very good book that's probably hard to place, genre-wise, because it has a foot in so many different worlds (I'd probably call it magical realism if I was forced to choose). The only real problem I had with this book was the ending, which was very open-ended.  In some ways it feels like there should be a sequel, but at the same time the choose-your-own-interpretation ending kind of fits the book even if it leaves you wanting answers. If you're looking for something original then Draw the Dark should fit the bill.

Remember how I said it'd been a couple months since I'd read the book?  Well please forgive me for not remembering specifics.  I liked the narration, it suited the book and I looked forward to long drives where I could spend time with the story.

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