I originally got this as an advance review copy for the other half, as I thought it sounded right up his street. But he’s been having a bit of a slack reading period lately – he keeps re-reading old favourites and not picking up anything new.
So, after having it for a couple of months (it was released on 5th June), I thought I’d give it a bash myself.
Nate Tucker has a low-paid job and needs to find somewhere low-rent to match it. When a vague acquaintance tips him off about a cheap apartment hes heard of, he decides to check it out.
He can’t believe his luck and moves in straight away, further cheered when he runs into his gorgeous blue-haired neighbour sunbathing naked on the roof.
However, he soon starts to notice that there seems to be some strange quirks in his new abode. The cockroaches are green for a start, and one light fitting only glows with black light – no matter what bulb he puts in it. and then there are they two apartment doors that look like they have been paonted closed for tens of years – including the mysterious, heavily padlocked apartment 14.
When his geeky neighbour Veek points out that there are no power lines going into their building, they decide to rally the other tennants and investigate – much to the horror of Oskar, their secretive caretaker. What could he possibly be concerned about them uncovering?
I had absolutely no idea where this story was headed.
It started off like a slightly quirky mystery. Nate is young, likeable, intelligent but not so much that it’s annoying, a bit of a slacker at work, funny – he’s just ‘normal’. You can imagine all of the characters living in the same building. All they have in common is their love (or need) of the cheap rent.
So, it starts as a mildly intriguing, entertaining grown-uop Scooby Doo romp. And that is actually how Clines pushes it, getting the characters to decide whether they are Shaggy, Fred, Scooby, Daphne or Velma.
And then suddenly it gets rather weird, and I was thinking “WTF??”. But this was in a good way! The investigations start to get more serious, and they start to uncover more historical oddities about the building.
But towards the end, it becomes completely and utterly surreal – which I hadn’t been expecting at all! It moves from being some kind of mystery into something more sci-fi – completely genre-hopping. I can understand that this could turn some peopel off, but to be honest, I loved it!
I’d grown to love the characters, and the way that they adapted to the different aspects of each situation felt realistic.
The narrative was actually very easy to read, but the story had so many layers that I couldn’t work out where it was going, and it’s nice to be surprised like that sometimes.
I’m not sure who I would recommend it to, but I’d love to discuss it with some friends who had read it. If I’d known what it wa slike, I would have suggested it as our Book Club read one month!