Tuesday 17 November 2015

Reviewing the Evidence! - The First Man by Gavin Frankle

The First Man Gavin Frankle front coverTitle: The First Man. (US Link.)
Author: Gavin Frankle.
Genre: sci-fi, fantasy.

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

I'm a bit of a rebel me. So a novella (it's just a touch too short to call a novel,) with as bold a premise as this was always going to catch my eye - and I'm kind of glad that it did.

Hold on tight folks, I've got a lot of ground to cover.


You think you know about Adam and Eve? The truth of the serpent and the tree? What you know is a lie. Eden was a prison, and Adam escaped.

World-weary, and close to immortal, Adam spends his modern-day life trying to avoid contact with the humans he created. But his past is about to catch up with him, in the form of someone he hoped never to see again.

Best bits:

It is undeniable that Mr Frankle has talent. He adopts a confident and impressive tone, and makes use of sharp and sparse prose (and my regular readers will know how much I love me some well-done sparse prose.)

For all the flaws of this book (discussed in just a sec,) Frankle can write. It flows exceptionally well, and there are hints of that spark - that rhythm, lilt, and weave of words - that only a writer of real talent can evoke. There is something here - something that's worth bringing out into the light.

And of course, anyone who has the gumption and bravery to take on such a bold and ambitious concept is well worthy of my praise - push the boundaries folks!

This book is also great for discussion - I guarantee that everyone will have something to say about it (Lord knows that I'm rabbiting on enough about various talking points,) and that can only be a good thing.

Oh, and I love the character of Kaliyah - he just rocks. End of.

Not so great bits:

It probably goes without saying that this book is going to be offensive to a lot of people. You start messing around with Bible stories, and people get p**sed off pretty quickly; this is not your book if you are a devoted Jew, Christian, or Muslim, and/or are easily offended. I will remind people however that this is a work of fiction - it's an exploration of an idea: not an attack on your personal beliefs.

There's a lot of blood and unpleasantness in places that some readers won't like.

There are references to, and sort-of-scenes of, rape - not overly graphic, but will be distressing to some readers all the same. And there are references to child abuse.

I also have to mention the poop. Frankle has a thing about poop. I get that sh** is a metaphor - but, really? I got the point - you don't have to keep repeating it!

An argument can be made that the plot doesn't always seem to fully be in Mr Frankle's control (I still have no idea what the sentinels and scions were really about.) Granted, this is always a danger when being ambitious.
The characters feel a touch underdeveloped - not least Eve (I understand that she's batsh** crazy, but after centuries I would expect some level of in-depth motivation, or maybe just a hobby.) Adam though, while relatable, is also more than slightly immature for an immortal(ish) fella.

OK, so it has some issues. But there is something about this book - some undefinable thing that makes you read on, and think about what you're reading. For that reason, I refuse to dismiss it out of hand. This is one to get the brain cells whirring.

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