Bad Brains

August 23, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

brainsBad Brains by Kathe Koja


I really like Koja’s writing style. When I was younger, I didn’t think much of it, but on re-reading it, I find I can appreciate it a lot more. When so much of the older fiction I read is more tell than show, it’s nice to read a style where the narrative is almost entirely show. In the Abyss line, Koja and Kelley Wilde both refused to follow any standards, and their books are much more enjoyable for it.

That being said, Bad Brains is a pretty dull book. It starts off well, but it slowly becomes a story of the main character moving from place to place. The main character isn’t that likable, which I expected, but he’s somehow both less or a loser and more of a loser than the main character in The Cipher. The story is about Austen, an artist who falls and suffers a brain injury that causes him to see a shimmery silver color encroach on his vision. This has happened to him after his wife has left him, and after he has fallen into a depression that halts his artwork. Since this is a Koja novel, Austen is a bit of an outcast, but he starts off as someone more respectable than Nicholas, from The Cipher. Slowly, though, he falls further and further out of step, so while he starts off having accomplished more in his life, he winds up being more insufferable than Nicholas. Maybe it’s because he did make something of himself before his wife left him and he fell into the downward spiral of his infection.

Bad Brains reads well, and makes as strong of an impact as The Cipher did, but the story just isn’t that interesting. Her style was enough to keep me reading, but I wanted the story to be as good as her narrative. I’m hoping her later works will capture that same blending of prose and story like I found in The Cipher. This could be a case of the Sophomore Novel Syndrome.

Started: August 9, 2018
Finished: August 18, 2018

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