Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Drift by Andrew Cyrus Hudson

By Andrw Cyrus Hudson

Published: 2011

Synopsis: Travis Benson is a young man living an ordinary life as a marketing director for a small communications company out in Connecticut. However, as quiet as his life is, his past keeps haunting him since the day he moved to Hartford. After a series of bad feelings and strange omens, Travis Benson decides to head back to where he once belonged. A small town in Colorado called Greenwood. A place where he finds second chances, new starts, and learns that it's never too late to try once more. When strange murders start happening in town, Travis realizes that his fears may have been more than mere imagination. Now he must face his doubts and fears as he fights to put everything back together again and save what he once had.

Drift is the debut novel of author Andrew Cyrus Hudson, and considering he's actually the same age as me, that's an incredible feet in and of itself. Drift is a pretty ambitious book for any author to attempt, it shifts through continuity, character focus, and time, and manages to successfully weave through these areas, causing minimal (if any) confusion for the reader.

Poor Travis Benson. From the outset it's pretty clear he's an unhappy dude. He's distant at work and seems to be heading into dangerous, soon to be out of work, territory. As the early chapters navigate his daily work as a marketing director, we also catch a glimpse of an earlier, and happier, time in his life. Interning for a music label, meeting the woman of his dreams and then marrying her. Where did it go wrong? What happened to Eileen, the girl with the green eyes he seemed ready to dedicate his entire life to? A dream/nightmare, sends him running out his door and jumping into his car, and the next few flashbacks (as well as the synopsis) suggest he's going back to the last place he called home. As Travis struggles to reconnect with the woman and child he left, another 'event' is shaking the small town of Greenwood. A long lost son of the town has returned and is killing without prejudice. Walk by him in the woods, or down the street, or serve him coffee, everyone is as expendable as the next, and no one is safe.

I enjoyed reading Drift and slowly discovering exactly what went wrong with Travis and Eileen's marriage. The incorporation of a psychotic murderer helped keep things fresh, and avoided it getting too family drama-ish, without seeming like a plot device tacked on the side. The use of flashbacks was an intriguing choice, though it did take me a couple of chapters to realise they weren't happening in chronological order. Perhaps I missed the signs, but it wasn't until the very obvious flashback to college that I realised every second chapter was a flashback and not part of the current timeline. Similarly, I struggled with the detailing regarding age and time in this book. It seems like Travis has been "barely 31" for much of the book, regardless of when the event was occurring, and the separation between Travis and Eileen is between 6 and 12 months, depending on which character was discussing it.

Regardless, I did enjoy the book and was able to put my confusion aside. The characters were interesting. Travis seemed like a bit of a push over, and his wife, Eileen, a complete and utter bitch. She is the reason men hate dating and women. She's so freaking obtuse, she attacks Trevor for something that isn’t his fault, and tells him she doesn’t need him/doesn’t want him/that their son would be better without him. Then when they’re reunited she goes on to say "just because I said it doesn’t mean I mean it"! Personally, I think Travis should have grabbed the little one and got the hell out, because their life together is going to be looooong and painful! She's not particularly tactful and she cycles through emotions like a pregnant woman, but Travis seems to love her, and their attempts to work through their issues were realistically difficult.

My favourite scenes were easily the ones involving the killer. His internal dialogue and the eventual flashbacks through his life were twisted and fascinating in a morbid kind of way, and rich in nature. From his ability to write this character with such tenacity and realism, I think Hudson should definitely try his hand writing a book entirely in this format, and I'd be one of the first to put my hand up for a copy. There is one scene in particular (which I won't discuss for fear of spoilers) but it made me sick to my stomach. It was beyond creepy and disturbing, it was truly psychotic.

The book had its ups and downs, but I think this was an admirable debut novel that demonstrates the promise Andrew C. Hudson has for a brilliant career writing fiction. Besides, any author that can reference Captain Trips (the disease from The Stand by Stephen King) so subtlety in their work deserves some attention.


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