Posted by: Matt | August 10, 2007

Review of Strange Skies

Strange SkiesStrange Skies
Matt Marinovich

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.

Rating: 2.0



  1. The funny thing is, I can imagine that this could be written in a way such that it would be darkly entertaining and quirkily amusing. It’s too bad it sounds like it’s so depressing instead.

  2. Darkly entertaining, quirkily amusing and a jaundiced slice of our society. It sounds positively dreadful instead.

  3. Heather – It could have been entertaining but you’re right. It was just depressing. And usually I like depressing books, but this one was worthlessly depressing.

    Carrie K – I only hope that the author doesn’t feel the same way as his character.

  4. Too bad it was a disappointing. A 2 is a pretty dreadful rating. Thanks for the heads up on this one.

  5. Funny, I found your review strangely myopic and Strange Skies completely compelling! Life isn’t perfect for some. Agreed, Marinovich does shows a confident ability; the main characters self-deprecating voice is superb!

  6. Stefanie – Well, I thought it a quite dreadful book. I wonder if I should have gone lower…

    Kim – You’re correct in stating that life is not perfect for some, I would venture to say it’s not perfect for anyone. However, I had no idea that was license for acting like a total scumbag (oh how I wish to use a much harsher word but will refrain), I’ll be sure to take note so that I might act as a total jerk when I’m not having a good day. I know, until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, right? *Spoiler* Well, at least it ended well, he saved anyone else from suffering through his self-absorbed misery by killing himself.

  7. snearing is spelled with two e’s,



  8. Greg – Duly noted. I need to do a better job of editing my posts. It’s something I’ve noticed all too often.

  9. i thought this book was greatt! i felt like i was inside paul’s mind, seeing & feeling the way he felt about his life, wanting the rebelious & worryless lifestyle, rather than the average american dream of being happy with a healthy family. all of the things paul went through on his “cancer vaccation” made him rethink what he wanted out of life which made him a better person in the end. yes, everyone makes mistakes & it took paul a lot of mistake making to find out who he really is. he does act completely irresponsible in his actions but i find it compelling because many guys are afraid of the future & want a way out of “settling down”, its funny to see how male authors depict the main male characters after true life emotions felt by many guys everywhere.

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