Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Off the Grid: The Catalyst by Brian Courtney Review
**I received this book as a free review copy courtesy of Brian Courtney.**
Let's begin by saying that Off the Grid is not a book that I would normally pick up. Not because I don't like it or am not interested in it, but because I just don't seem to come across many books that are quite like this. So for me, this was a surprise, blind read that I decided to dive into; it was certainly an adventure.
Off the Grid is a tremendously idea-heavy novel from first-time author Brian Courtney that really creates some though thought-provoking action and ideas. I would describe Courtney's writing style as somewhat loose, with minor hints of steam-of-consciousness. He's extremely blunt, which is very attractive and fitting with this particular novel, as it reflects both the personality of the main character, Pan McCandless, and the theme of the novel itself. Pan does not shy away from things, and neither does the story.
This book follows the notion of the 'outsider' who doesn't quite follow or accept the accepted norms of society. Pan lives on the edge and sees right through 'The Institution' and it's 'goodness.' The Institutions embodies a very 'Big Brother'-esque vibe that gives you those slight chills that travel straight to your core. It's one of those silently terrifying ideas that aren't openly scary, but that has strong implications for the future of society.
From the start, I could tell that Courtney has a very specific and unique writing style. He can be extremely expansive, elaborating on parts that he feels are important and worthwhile to the story, but also rather short, keeping areas that aren't as crucial to the minimum. He knows what he wants to focus on, and that is important in every successful novel. He doesn't fret around with unnecessary information, but rather gets yo to the point. The way in which Courtney describes Pan is, quite honestly, rather beautiful. I was enraptured in his descriptions, which contained sharp contrast and juxtaposition. By using such contrasting words and ideas, Courtney is able to really capture the essence of Pan, as well the tone of the novel. Pan is one of those characters that you can't help but like. He's not someone that you should necessarily like if you knew him in person, and he's definitely not described in a perfect manner; yet. something draws you to him. There is something about Pan that you can't quite put down and walk away from. He is an extremely focused individual who knows what he wants and what he believes, and he i not about to let anyone else tell him otherwise. He does not back down at confrontation; instead, he seems to embrace it.
It's hard for me to describe my opinion on the pacing of this book. On the one hand, I feel like too much happened too soon. We were thrown into too many situations, too many ideas, and too many characters and events very prematurely. On the other hand, the fast-paced plot seems to fit really well. This is a fast-paced novel - it keeps you going, thus the importance of a fast-paced plot. Ultimately, I think it's up to the individual reader to decide if it a pace they enjoy or not.
Overall, this novel poses very important and interesting themes. I give Courtney a big 'hats-off' for so deftly tackling such a heavy and important topic. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this novel, and I've been debating between three and four stars for a while, Ultimately, I am going to give it four stars for being such a strong, passionate book that tells a rather chilling and important story. I can see how this book may not be for everyone, but I would recommend readers to pick it up and give it a try - you might just love it.