Genre: not sure? contemporary but with some fantastical elements?
Goodreads rating: 3.0
My rating: ★
What would you do if a character in a novel you wrote actually came to life? What if the character learned his whole reality was just a construct created by you, the story’s narrator? In A Character in Reality, Detective Gladstone, a fictional character from the narrator’s Flaming Locket series, gains consciousness and steps out of a novel into reality. He adjusts to the real world with the narrator’s help, picking up insights along the way about what it means to be human. He eventually becomes too real to exist in the narrator’s fiction and is stranded in reality, taking up acting as a profession. He likes this work because he can be fully directed and have pre-written lines to say, just like in fiction. But when he becomes too famous, people catch on that he was originally a character from a novel, and an extremist anti-illegal immigrant group does not want him living in reality. The group believes that characters from a book belong in a book, not in the real world. Gladstone must face down the group’s leader and in so doing fully self-actualize, becoming a much loved American hero in the process (Goodreads).
DISCLAIMER: I was given a copy of the book by the author. This doesn’t affect my review
I really liked the concept of this one. I’m always a sucker for the idea of characters coming to live, so of course I really wanted to read this one. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. To organise my thoughts, I’ll be making a list (cause YAY LISTS)
- The writing isn’t that great. A lof of ‘he did this’ and ‘he did that’
- Also a lot of telling instead of showing
- The characters were very flat. I don’t know anything about them
- There wasn’t really a plot until way too late, which made it really boring (Robert did this, Robert did that)
My biggest problem with this book though, is a bit of a spoiler, though you can guess that this will happen. While the narrator warns Robert that no one can know he is fictional, it is found out eventually. I found the way other people found out super unrealistic. Someone notices the similarity between Robert and the character he was in the book he’s from, and people immediately think that they are the same person, thus that Robert came to life. They don’t think the character might be based on him or anything like that, and the narrator admits that Robert and fictional Robert are one and the same, instead of using this easy excuse (he was offered money, but the whole ordeal felt really ridiculous to me). Then Robert is shunned and it’s clear that the author wanted to parallel the xenophobia in America (especially since at some point the elections come into play and it’s clear that the candidates are based on Hillary and Trump). But here’s the thing. Robert is a white, cis, straight abled man. I couldn’t find a description of him, but if he wasn’t white he should’ve been described that way and his main love interest is incredibly racist, so she wouldn’t have dated him if he weren’t white. The way Robert was used as a metaphor for what is going on in America right now (and in the rest of the world) and for racism and xenophobia really felt wrong to me. Especially when at the end of the book he is deemed a hero and an inspiration to all minorities, when the only reason he was ‘discriminated’ against was because he was fictional (there were protesters in the book who were like ‘fictional characters are taking our jobs!!’ clearly a metaphor for immigrants ‘taking’ jobs). It just didn’t sit well with me.
So in short, I really wouldn’t recommend this book. I didn’t like the metaphor at all and the writing wasn’t that great.
Have you read this book? What did you think? What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments!