Reason for reading: This is an ARC from the First Look program for HarperCollins. Having just recently welcomed my first child into the world I thought it would be interesting.
Quote: “I tell her that it has spread to my lymph nodes. I tell her Dr. Tolson is giving me a fifty percent chance of survival. But obviously, kids are out. Having a family is out. This will change everything.”
Paul Mauro has seen how life is for his brother. His brother is married with three children and seems to be completely miserable. Paul’s wife Lee is getting hungry for a baby, problem is Paul hates children. He doesn’t want a family. Luckily for him, an opportunity has just presented itself. A cancerous lump has recently been removed from his arm. Maybe it spread, maybe he only has a few months to live, or maybe he’s perfectly healthy and he can lie to his wife. Tell her he’s dying, that it’s no time to be thinking about bringing children into their home. It’s much too tempting and all too easy.
This is your introduction to Paul. Likely one of the most detestable humans you’ll ever meet, or rather, read about. He has just opened for himself a world of opportunity. A chance to throw away the nice guy exterior and let his despicable side shine. Cheat on the wife, lie, steal. It’s all available to the man who can excuse himself with a snearing, “I’m dying of cancer!”
There is nothing likable about Paul. And he has no redeeming qualities. He has several chances to set things right, but continues to run the other way. If his actions are questioned he simply shouts that he is dying. Dying is a good excuse for many things, but not for being a totally unlikable jerk.
There is no redemption in this story, no rebound. It is a cause for wonder. What was the author trying to say by writing this book? That we are all faking kindness? That we are all just as terrible as Paul on the inside? That is one way to look at it, one horribly depressing way. And if this is not the argument of the author, it is a mystery what it might be.
Strange Skies is Matt Marinovich’s first novel. He shows a confident ability. One wonders what he might do with another subject. Unfortunately he chose to write about this. It will be interesting to see what he tackles next, however, this time you’re likely better off spending time on a different book.