Author: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: 2012
Genre: Adventure, drama, sci-fi
My Rating: ****
Official Rating: adult fiction
Age Group: 12+
"My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad."
Thus begins a mind-bending adventure in which we meet Stephen Leeds' hallucinations, or aspects, as he calls them. He's a brilliant man and essentially what happens is he has different characters in his head. One's a SEAL, one a therapist, another a history expert, then there's the one who speaks Hebrew...and so on until he has nearly all 47 rooms in his mansion filled.
Of course, no one can see or hear these aspects except Leeds, but he still gives them actual space, and thankfully so does his faithful butler Wilson.
Leeds is a recluse, hiding away from the scientists who want to figure out his "condition" but when a woman presents to him an interesting mystery, he agrees to go to Israel to try to solve it.
Afterall, why not try to find a camera that can take pictures of the past?
Well, one reason could be the terrorist group that wants to use it to destroy all major world religions. Or that could be a motivator. Either way, Leeds is off to Israel!
Word of Warning
Very few problems with this book. I think it's not put in children's or YA fiction just because it's not structured or targeted as one, but I think it really hits the three major areas (children, YA, adult) rather well.
- Language: damn, "oh my God", and bastard. Each time these are used (as rarely as it is), one of the aspects kindly warns "Language!"
- Terrorists. They attack, blow a car up, capture major characters, and torture/beat a man almost to death before shooting him. They also cut off his hand (but that's done before we meet him).
- Speaking of shooting, there is an aspect, J.C. (the SEAL) who is practicing his aim by shooting at a picture of bin Laden. He tends to request "Can I shoot him?" quite often, but I'm not entirely sure he's serious. He does come in handy when the terrorists are in the heat of a battle.
- Essentially, Leeds murders about five people in self-defense, but it's complicated by by the fact that he attributes this to J.C.
- The goal of the terrorist group is to prove all major world religions wrong. This is nicely contrasted by another character who is trying to use the camera to prove Christianity (more specifically Catholicism) true. And it's not that this character doubts it, it's that he wants to prove it to doubters.
- One of the aspects is very impressed by the man's persistence in remaining a serious scientist and a faithful Christian (probably Catholic). While this is really great, the aspect spends a few moments making it sound like these two things actually don't go together and should in a normal world compete. Eventually the aspect tries to conclude that they can work together, but the conclusion is a little weak when put up against his speech before it.
It's a fast read, really only about 84 pages, mostly dialogue since Leeds spends a good amount of time talking to his aspects. It's fun, watching a character talk to compartmentalized information in his head that is manifested as characters. Plus the adventure is a fun, fast-paced story that isn't too complicated to follow but just enough to make you think, and just when you thought you had it, turns out you didn't.
And Leeds knows his aspects aren't real. He also thinks he can't live without them. But there's a mysterious woman who was teaching him how to control them, and himself, to get his life back into order. And he's torn between how much he loves life with his aspects, and knowing that he really needs something more from life, and something needs to change.
With something this easy and enjoyable to read, I can say two things: I'm off to find the rest of the series, and I'm interested to see where Leeds goes next.