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“You could stay,” Sparrow says. “You don’t have to go back.”
Joel sighs. “I have a life on the other side,” he says.
“You can’t like it very much,” Sparrow says. “You’re always here.”

Joel works at a record store, but his real passion is writing. When he’s not at work, Joel escapes to the fantasy world he’s created, where he passes the time with his characters. Joel finds himself drifting out of reality so frequently that his characters begin infiltrating his real life.

Everyone’s a Casualty is a very short story – 12,000 words, or approximately 30-35 pages. This means that everything happens very quickly, and there’s little room for extra descriptions. I would have liked to see the initial idea expanded into something a bit more detailed. How did Joel first enter his fantasy world? Has he been doing this his whole life? How did Joel begin to see his characters as living, breathing creatures?

The basis of the story is good, but the writing is a little stilted. One example of this is that every character “says” their dialogue. They don’t “reply” or “explain” or “murmur” or “mumble” or “suggest.” They only “say.” I found it a little awkward, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

At the end of the story, we have to determine what’s real and what’s taking place in Joel’s head. This messed with my head in a way that I probably would have really liked in high school. Unfortunately, either I wasn’t in the right mindset for this type of story, or I just don’t enjoy this kind of thing like I used to.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m checking off #6: a book written by someone under 30.