ElysiumElysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

a very interesting but overall flawed tale.

what’s interesting is that the story is told from the point of view of Adrian/Adrienne and Antoine/Antoinette, more or less, in variations of gender and circumstance. Adrian, for example, is at one point a gay man in what seems to be a contemporary large city, and Antoine his lover; but later may be Adrian a small child on the run from unknown invaders, hoping desperately that his big brother Antoine will return to protect him.

or Adrian may be the husband of Antoinette, who may or may not survive bearing Adrian’s child.

you get the point. it’s a fabulous conceit, and i bow before the author for conceiving it. truly. some of the A/A tales are deeply affecting: Adrian watching his lover Antoine die of a disease reminiscent of AIDS, or Adrienne as a child learning to fly from her father Antoine. the story of A & A unfolds into a tale of attack by a conscienceless enemy (exactly who is revealed in the tale, but i won’t spoiler it here) through shifting perspectives of A & A over time.

but! the story undercuts itself, ultimately… as a story in part of data loss, and editorial errors.

no spoiler here–the back of the book tells us that “A computer program etched into the atmosphere has a story to tell… but the data is corrupted.” so which tale do we as readers get attached to? as each successively gets the rug pulled out from under it, a reader’s emotional investment is proved to be pointless. it’s just data.

but more annoying in this story are the simple editorial errors–grammatical errors, spelling & punctuation errors, the truly low-level stuff that the publisher (shame on you, Aqueduct Press) should have weeded out of this story. i mean, how many past tenses of “to shine” are there? shined? shone? did shine? seriously.

on the whole, tho, i’d totally recommend it despite its flaws. i can’t help but wish that the editor/publisher had pushed for one more revision to clarify its themes and correct its mechanics, but i will remain appreciative of its conception. i look forward to the author’s next work.

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