Friday, May 24, 2013

"Everything You Can Imagine Is Real"- Pablo Picasso

First Paragraph:

"William Balder was born in Ottawa, Ontario on Aug. 12 1973. He spent most of his life in the Ottawa Valley. He had two sisters and a brother, all older than himself, and the best parents anyone could ask for. He spent most of his youngest years with his cousin, then as he grew, he had friends from school. He was close to all his family, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins alike when he was young, but drifted away from most of them when he hit his teens."

Cruel Imagination 1- The Beginning is the first book in a series by Trevor Couturier. 

Set in Ontario, William Balder lives in a farm house with his wife of 18 years, Mona, and their two teenage daughters, Amie and Elizabeth. Bills, the mortgage and refurbishments take a lot out of their budget. Mona is an accountant, but to keep up with all the costs, Will has two jobs, neither of which offer a lot of work. His main income comes from the 10 weeks out of the year he works for a demolition company and his second job pays very little, for one day's work helping his old nanny with her stall at the farmer's market. 

In between all the time he spends working and with his family, Will tries to make time for his passion. What Will really wants is to be a writer. The problem is he doesn't know what to write. He's tried poetry, short stories, "How-To" books and a cook book, none of which were published. Now he struggles to write at all.

One night, Will has a dream. In his dream, he meets an old man with a long, white beard and hair, both streaked with grey. He wears a floppy hat, an old, leather jacket with a Led Zeppelin shirt beneath and biker boots- complete with steel toe caps. The old man offers him power. The power to imagine anything into existence. 

The next day, Will tells his wife about it. They don't think too much about at first. Why would you? But Will starts to wonder about whether the power of creation through imagination is more of a curse than a gift. He could imagine anything, including bad things. Things he never wants to happen. Was it all a dream? Nothing he's imagined since waking up has occurred? If it wasn't a dream, does he really have the power? What should he do with it? How could he control it? And just who is the old man, with the long, white beard?

An odd story. Somehow disjointed, but still coherent. Starting off as an almost slice-of-life like story, but with an air of uncertainty and an unsettling quality to seemingly normal events. What genre I would classify this book as, I'm not sure. The first half of the story is just everyday events, bar the dream. This changes at the second half, to what I won't say.

An interesting short book, that provides no real answers. Who the characters are, what is real and even what the plot is about are all up to the interpretation of the reader, including (especially) the ending. What actually happened at the end, I'm unsure of. There are many possibilities and I'm almost disappointed that there's a second book because it will create a more definite ending to this one, rather than the ambiguous one we're left with. 

The concept was a very intriguing one. As someone with an occasionally annoyingly, overactive imagination, the 'what-if' scenarios spring to mind. What if everything you imagined came to be? The nature of the human psyche is such that we focus more on what we fear, imagine things that could go wrong and the worse case scenarios, more than we focus on our dreams, aspirations and our happiness.  This is especially true when we are under stress or threat. Having to keep a check on your every thought and keep your mind blank is hard enough, without fear breathing down your neck. 

I'm interested to see where the story will go in the next book. How Will's story will continue and whether I want it to. Will the next book be more of the same and basically just a re-write of this story, or is there somewhere else it can go? There aren't many answers in this book, but I prefer it that way. Solving the puzzles and questions would somehow make the story more mundane.

There are a few moments that feel out of place or didn't need to be a part of the story, but since when did necessity dictate creativity. For the most part there's no problem, but there were a few plot points and seemingly important information or clues that go nowhere. Whether they are bread crumbs that will trail through the series until the epiphany at the end is uncertain. They may simply be random comments that don't mean a thing. 

One aspect of the book (not the story) that ruins it a little are the continuous spelling and grammar errors. Luckily, I'm someone who always finishes a book once I've started it and this book was no exception. I wouldn't mention it if they were scarce, but it's more than the odd mistake. However, books should be read for their stories. Grammar and spelling are luxuries, that are nice to have and definitely preferable, but not necessary. Grammar and spelling are not indicative of a story-teller's skill, though good spelling and grammar are important. Basically, if the story's good (or in my case regardless) these mistakes can be put to the side and pushed through. 

On an unrelated, largely irrelevant side note, there is a parallel between Will's life and the author's. Both have a wife and two daughters. Both have two sisters and a brother- all of which are older. And both write.  It may be that the author wanted to dedicate his book to them through the addition of their personas into his story, but I'd be interested to know what similarities his characters have to the people in his life, including himself. Is Will his own persona? As I stated earlier, this has absolutely nothing to do with the story, but is more of an area of intrigue. 

Overall, an interesting story, though the concept may hold more that the deliverance. I enjoyed this short book, but as I said earlier, I'm not sure whether I'll check out the next in the series. Leaving the ending ambiguously dependent on my own imagination is almost too much to pass up.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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