Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Rest is Illusion by Eric Arvin

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Young Offenders Media
Pages: 186

At a small college in the Midwest, a cast of characters are unwittingly moving towards a night of magic, a night where the stars align, and destinies are changed. On this night, Dashhel Yarnsbrook – a beautiful, yet, troubled gay student – prepares for death. While Dash struggles to find meaning in his life before death takes him, his three friends and one enemy struggle with their own impediments to attaining adulthood. As the story unfolds, each character must travel their own path, and face their own truth. And for some, a touch of Divine guidance helps them along their path.

I was a bit confused by this story. The simplistic plot and somewhat cliché young characters convinced me that this is a YA novel, yet the vocabulary is geared to a much more sophisticated reader. Still, flowery vocabulary aside, this is a wonderful coming of age tale, full of magic and characters stumbling towards adulthood.

The characters, although lacking depth, are likable and I couldn’t help but cheer them on. There are many touching moments, both sad and happy. I felt the blending of magic into the story worked well. It was not overdone like I’ve seen in other novels.

My one issue with this novel is that I felt it was over written. As mentioned above, the flower prose often went overboard, and when it did it pulled me out of the story and made me notice the writing, instead of being absorbed in the story. For instance, the author wrote: “She sensed what was to come before it happened, and in that second, lying outside of perceived time and place, Sarah let out a great sweeping cry of sadness and regret. It flew past all the known realms of sound, and parted the clouds in the sky.” It’s beautiful writing, yet I often found it over the top.

This is a powerful coming of age story for young adults, one I’m sure that many will be able to identify with, and perhaps help them discover that spark of magic within themselves that will help them down their own path. It is a very unique story line that is both entertaining and inspirational. This is a novel I can highly recommend.


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