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Khanh the Killjoy

Another Little Piece

Another Little Piece - Kate Karyus Quinn This pretty much sums up my feelings towards this book:I recently read a similarly surreal book which takes place partially within dreams. One of my complaints about that book was that the dreams didn't feel authentic. The dreams were too streamlined; those dreams had plot, those dreams made too much sense. After reading this book, I would have been glad to have gone back to that sort of surrealism. I've never taken drugs, and consequently I've never had any experience with hallucinogens. After reading this book, I do not feel the need to experiment with drugs, ever, because this is probably what a bad acid trip probably feels like when written down. Franz Kafka? Nah. Naked Lunch? Nah. This book is more confusing than any surrealistic genre or chemically-influenced works of literature I can recall reading."Do you have any idea how many brains I have studied in my career?""Seven hundred." Pause. "And fifty-two.""Out of those seven hundred and fifty-two brains, only four have behaved in ways that I could not understand. In all four of those cases, I determined after extensive testing that those brains were aberrations to the point of no longer being technically human...yours is the fourth brain. And that makes you my first living monster."The summary given in the book blurb is simple, deceptively simple. Read it again because I can't summarize it for you because I have no idea what I just read. Don't trust it. Don't trust anything in this book. I can't even tell you how it ends if my life is dependent upon it, because I am so utterly, completely confused.To say that our narrator, Annaliese, is an unreliable one is like saying rotting roadkill is rather unappetizing. It's a vast, vast understatement. I didn't know half the time whether I should feel sympathetic for her, or hate her, or just not believe in anything she's saying or experiencing because she is clearly crazier than the Mad Hatter, probably even more than the Johnny Depp portrayal of such, and nowhere near as colorful. Annaliese is such a detached narrator. She can't remember who she is, she has flashes of memory of her old self, but yet is not her, because she might be someone else. Or many someone else's. I'm still not quite sure.Annaliese goes back to her original family when she re-emerges from her disappearance, but she never feels like she belongs. Not uncommon, in her case. Extreme trauma and the subsequent amnesia will do that to a person. She can't get used to anything. She is unattached to her parents ("the dad," "the mom,"), and to herself. She's not even sure she's herself."But how had I gone from Anna to Annaliese? And who were those other six girls in between?"Annaliese meets and had visions of strange people. The Physician, the Brujahs. She encounters everyday people who aren't who they seem to be. People who seem to just be borrowing someone else's skin.Annaliese hates the taste of chocolate. She has strange cravings for people.And that's when I felt the first hunger pang. Even from my spot halfway up the bleachers, I could see the beads of sweat on his golden-brown skin. Except it didn't resemble sweat so much as the juices dripping from the crisped and crackling skin of a roasted chicken. I wanted to sink my teeth into him. My stomach growled with hunger at the thought. Saliva collected in my mouth. I swallowed loudly.This was all good for the first half of the book. Things are ambiguous, strange, I can chalk it up to her trauma from her disappearance, but the second half was an even bigger mess. Think the first half is weird? Reading the second half makes the first part feel like reading Pat the Bunny. More people got thrown into the equation, people who aren't even involved in Annaliese's everyday life. It's told through flashbacks, segments of recalled memories, memories of different people, from different times, from decades before. I found it incoherent, disjointed, disorienting.The supporting cast of the present Annaliese is not so likeable. There is the mother and father, who aren't altogether sure that they're glad to have this daughter back.The mom had been better when I was missing. The belief that she would find her daughter had fueled her. Now that she had me, it was worse. I was wrong. I’d thought an impostor might be better than no daughter at all. But the mom had never really lost Annaliese, because she’d refused to let her go.There is Logan, Rice Sixteen, the popular jock who is guilt-ridden by his role in Annaliese's previous life as herself. His need of her, his need to prove himself to her and to make things up to her is sad, pathetic, and altogether pitiful. He is like a puppy that just pissed on the carpet for the 14th time. He knows he shouldn't do it but he can't help himself and he doesn't know how to make things better.There is Dex, the "level-A creep" whom Annaliese inexplicably likes. This was the boy from next door. The boy with one red eye, who liked to record and replay people's screams.My skin crawls just thinking about Dex, honestly. The author does her best to prove Dex is a good guy, but I just can't think of him without revulsion.This book is just so strange. The prose is good but I can't recommend it at all because it is such a mess of a mystery. That is, unless you are like Annaliese's mentally ill mother and feel like ripping your hair out, bit by bit.