Monday, August 29, 2011

REVIEW: No One in the World by E. Lynn Harris and R.M. Johnson

This is a serious, rather literary tale that takes a concept that seems destined for a raunchy comedy, and plays it straight (so to speak).

Drama is heaped upon drama here, with enough stories to fill several novels. First, we have the drama of a gay man rejected by his father. Second, we have the death-bed discovery of a long-lost twin brother. Third, we have the convoluted family last-will-and-testament that requires a traditional marriage in order to inherit. Fourth, we have a career-driven sister, desperate to save the family company by ensuring that impossible marriage happens. Fifth, complicating things at all levels, we have a love affair between Cobi and another closeted professional, this time a state senator. Finally, we have that long-lost twin brother, pretending to new-found happiness on the one hand, while betraying a fragile relationship on the other.

Given such a complicated story, it takes an extremely strong personality to hold it all together, and Cobi largely succeeds in that role. He’s a wonderfully developed character, entirely comfortable in his own sexuality, yet fully aware of his the complications it presents. That's not to say he's perfect - in fact, there were  few personality traits that really irked me - but that's okay, because perfect characters are hard to identify with. As for the siblings, I never warmed up to Eric or Sissy, characters who seemed to be more about their issues and their role in the story than themselves, but I did appreciate the fact that they were allowed to develop and demonstrate some diversity.

At times predictable, and even a little bit forced, it’s still a story that works. There were a few passages that jumped out at me as being clearly the work of two different authors (where styles just didn’t seem to mesh); the use of different perspectives irked me a bit (the third-person narratives just didn’t grab me the way the first-person narration did); the short chapters definitely made it hard for me to really settle into the story (short chapters are a personal pet peeve); and some of the dialogue left me rolling my eyes. With that said, it's a quick moving read, full of enough twists and turns to keep the drama from getting stale. Also, I must say I appreciated the fact that Cobi was allowed to have his moments of intimacy, which is something we rarely see in a mainstream novel featuring a gay protagonist.

Not the best novel I've read this summer, but still a pleasant diversion.

1 comment:

  1. I'm always hesitant to read books that have multiple authors. I just never know how it is going to go.