No Hope for Gomez!
by Graham Parke
It's the age-old tale:
Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.
We've seen it all before, many times, but this time it's different. If only slightly. When Gomez Porter becomes a test subject in an experimental drug trial, he is asked to keep track of any strange experiences through a blog. What Gomez isn't ready for, is so many of his experiences suddenly seeming strange; the antiques dealer trying to buy his old tax papers, his neighbor boiling salamanders on his balcony at midnight, the super sexy lab assistant who falls for him but is unable to express herself in terms outside the realm of science. But when one of the trial participants turns up dead and another goes missing, Gomez begins to fear for his life. No longer sure who he can trust and which of his experiences are real and which merely drug induced illusions, he decides its time to go underground and work out a devious plan.
Now, years later, his blogs have been recovered from a defunct server. For the first time we can find out firsthand what happened to Gomez as he takes us on a wild ride of discovery.
I was hooked by the tagline "Boy Meets Girl. Boy Stalks Girl. Girl already has a stalker. Boy becomes her stalker-stalker." It's kinda perfect, and twisted enough to be right up my alley. (I assumed.) And though I did like this aspect of the story, I felt a little let down.
It's weird; I like the elements of the story, and they all seem to fit together to make something I should really like, but I felt disconnected from the story. I think this is in large part due to the "medical blog" style. I mean, yes, it was quirky and sometimes very amusing, more so when you would take into account the things Gomez was saying + the reasons he was saying them + the fact that a medical research team was to have full access to the blog and his (very personal) shared thoughts. This should have = a win, and occasionally it did. But most of the time, Gomez's clinical style and my questions on the timing and delivery of it all kept me from buying in and going with it.
But despite this, I wouldn't call it a bad read. Parke is funny and quirky ala Christopher Moore, and some of the stuff that happens is fun and random in that good, wtf? way. Gomez's interactions with his clueless neighbor were so hilariously uncomfortable (in fact, Gomez's interactions with a lot of people were hilariously uncomfortable -- he knows some odd people, and is a bit odd himself...), and the situations he finds himself are fun/zany. I think there will be people who will really love this book and recommend it to people, and think about it and its characters fondly. I'm just somewhere in the middle, wanting to like it more than I did, wanting to connect to it more than I could. I think with a few different choices, the book would have had me, but as it is, it fell just shy.
*Find out more about No Hope for Gomez! and related stories at http://www.grahamparke.com/