Yeah, let’s just pretend I’m not a disappearing blog-ghost and have a book review of our family’s latest read-aloud.
Lists and cool concepts. We’ll be good.
4 Years Trapped in my Mind Palace: Book Review
Diagnosed with a rare form of meningitis, fourteen-year-old Aaron Greenburg is paralyzed from head to toe. Doctors believe he is essentially brain dead and unaware of his surroundings, but Aaron is very much aware—trapped in his own mind with no way to communicate.
To cope with his imprisonment, he retreats to a magical place called his Mind Palace, but strange and unexplainable things occur when he gets a new patient as a roommate—an old, outspoken, Jewish jazz musician, named Solomon.
Really cool concept
Seriously. I’ve never read anything remotely close to this book’s concept and it was SO COOL. You’ve got Aaron, who’s kind of accepted his fate of “everyone thinks I’m brain-dead and talks over me and this is life now”.
And then in comes Solomon, who’s getting put there because he suffers from dementia and needs to be watched after. And he can hear Aaron’s thoughts and finds nothing unusual about the fact, so he just starts chatting with Aaron.
So everyone thinks Aaron’s brain-dead and Solomon’s crazy, but Aaron finally has someone to talk to.
Could you imagine only being able to communicate with one person? Through your mind?
Just . . . augh. It’s really awesome.
Usually, either the book has a neat concept, or it has awesome characters that carry it along. This one actually managed to pull off both.
Aaron and Solomon are both hilarious and fun in their own ways. Aaron with his constantly annoyed, sarcastic sort of humor and Solomon . . . Solomon is very distinct. All the “Oy!”s and head shakes and winks. Like the synopsis says, very outspoken and he’s a bit of a tease.
The two of them are very different, but the way they become friends and play off each other is great.
Also, thumbs-up for pretty well done minor characters too.
Since Aaron is kind of . . . well, paralyzed . . . he doesn’t get to elaborate as much on how things feel. He can’t gesture and can’t even move his eyes to look at things. But what we do get is in-depth descriptions on the sounds around him and the lingering smell of everyone around him. This person smells like lemons . . . that person smells like aftershave . . . that one smells like French fries . . . it’s really cool and different.
Because, apart from Solomon, it’s the only dialog Aaron can have. And he’s honed it down quite nicely over the years he’s been unable to communicate. Part of his coping is basically to talk back to everyone in his head. i.e.
-nurse walks in- “How’re you doing today, Aaron?”
Oh, well paralyzed and I can’t even move my eyes away from that stupid fruit painting on the wall . . . bored out of my brains, to put it bluntly. But what else is new.
It is sad, really.
Still engaging, though.
Cool dual storylines
Where Solomon’s dementia works into the story and where the concept gets really complicated.
With their mind-connection thing, Solomon can bring Aaron into his reliving of the past with his dementia dreams. So we get to see episodes of Solomon’s life through the eyes of Aaron, who comes along as some minor player in the event (like the backup trombone player in the jazz band scene).
It was kind of cool to have the two storylines going on at once and getting to know more about Solomon’s life.
Some descriptions of war and things like that
I personally didn’t have too much problem with this, but it’s worth mentioning. Some of Solomon’s dreams go back to when he was a soldier in WWII and things are kind of dark there, though they do handle it very well and talk about it afterwards. Just flagging that that’s in here.
Concept not fully explored/explained
This was the biggest bugger for the book. Like I said before, the idea . . . the whole mind linking, dementia and mind reading thingy is really awesome. But the explanation of how it even happens is practically nonexistent, despite the fact that Aaron is asking all the questions we are, it just remains a mystery.
Sci-fi-writer-me has plenty of theories stocked up regarding how everything worked as far as their minds having a connection and some stuff about time travel to make it all work and stuff . . . but yeah. None of that was really gone into.
Though I can see what the author was doing somewhat. I mean, going into all the technicalities would probably take up more pages than he had to spare. And leaving it unspecified more indicated like a spiritual connection sort of thing.
I don’t know, the story wasn’t ruined by it, but I would have liked more explanation.
Not a problem I had as much (heh, since mom was reading it out loud) but apparently this thing was really badly proofread.
-grammar Nazis beware-
A fun, medium-paced read with a cool concept. Our whole family really enjoyed the story.
Brief note on the blogging front of things: While I have not been posting as much, I have been writing and have tons of short stories stocked up to throw at you guys in the near future. Also approaching that Blank Mastermind edit/minor rewrite soon so that’s good. -thumbs up- Expect fun things.
So, have you guys read the book? Think you will?