Strange Life of Brandon Chambers should be “Awful Life of Brandon Chambers.” There’s so much that happens in the first few chapters that you can’t help but feel bad for this kid. You’re shouting, “leave him alone, already!” at the pages. You have a gut feeling it won’t stop. It feels intense. The author sets things up to be huge.
Only to leave you feeling let down. Like the air escaped from a balloon.
We follow Brandon from a kid to an adult as his life does, indeed, get weirder. Hallucinations, bio-weapons, the paranormal. Things take odd twists. They’re not good or bad twists, they’re…odd.
One important thing that stood out was the treatment of mental illness. While it’s still used as a plot device, it doesn’t use demonizing tropes. The author uses tact when bringing it up. Treated with compassion, Brandon is never doubted. Given a support system, his character development is strong. Something I wish was more common in real life. It was at least a nice thing to read. As a result, Brandon has a huge fascination with psychology. He’s hoping for answers.
Those answers are what drives the story, not Brandon’s illness. And therein lies a mystery–one that leaves more questions than answers.
This has a paranormal, very Da Vinci Code feel to it. Mysterious clues left for Brandon to find, like a scavenger hunt. Clues supposed to lead him closer to the answers he seeks. Touted as huge to the story, the death of his parents and the mysterious clues are a letdown. So much foreshadowing, so many things built up…and it’s not satisfying.
Characterization was good. Each of them had their own voice, along with distinct subplots. Conflict, both internal and external, helped their development along. Character’s feel different when compared to where they started from. Some of the character interactions were awkward. Dialogue felt forced, on occasion. The general style was good and fitting for the narration. There was a very detached narrator feel to it. Grammar and punctuation were solid for the most part.
Brandon Chambers indeed has a strange life. The author concocted the most bizarre set of circumstances for him to overcome. Never did there seem to be a shortage of conflict. And it all served to further the plot, rather than thrown in for funsies. While there was a shortage of resolutions, I can’t exactly call it a deal-breaker. It hooks you in hard enough that you sort of just accept how things play out.
Buy it here!