Customer Reviews


26 Reviews
5 star:
 (19)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Debut!
The bottom line is that Richard Thomas has got the goods.

For a debut, he goes balls out on this one: sizeable cast, jumpy timeline, complex story, but Thomas pulls this off seamlessly without it ever feeling disjointed or convoluted. He doesn't spoon-feed the reader. TRANSUBSTANTIATE will make you think, question, and come up with your own theories about...
Published on July 8, 2010 by Brandon

versus
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent concept but not fully developed
Thomas's plot is very unique and his distinctive voice blends gritty and choppy language with crisp exposition. He jumps through a fragmented time line as well as numerous narrators with ease. What I didn't care for was this book left so much to be explained. And if not explained, at least hinted at. By the end of the book there was a mountain of questions posed in the...
Published on March 19, 2011 by Steve Zissu


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Debut!, July 8, 2010
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
The bottom line is that Richard Thomas has got the goods.

For a debut, he goes balls out on this one: sizeable cast, jumpy timeline, complex story, but Thomas pulls this off seamlessly without it ever feeling disjointed or convoluted. He doesn't spoon-feed the reader. TRANSUBSTANTIATE will make you think, question, and come up with your own theories about what's happening/going to happen, and I loved that aspect of it.

Regarding the actual writing, this has a Stephen King feel, and that might have to do with the size of the cast and the syntax that Thomas has. Make no mistake, it's reminiscent of King, but Thomas has a voice all his own that is sure to stand out in neo-noir genre he is taking on. The thing that Thomas does very well in direct comparison to King is the economy aspect of storytelling. Thomas doesn't waste a word and doesn't sacrifice any of the on-the-body description or gritty scenery. He paces what could've been a slow and confusing novel in such a way that's easy to swallow and effective. Readers should eat this up.

Thomas has been pitching this book as something akin to "Lost." I agree with that wholeheartedly. Not just because we're on an island with a large cast, but also because Thomas seems to pose great questions in his narrative that just have to be answered by us, the reader, and so we keep pouring through to find those answers. Every character is polished and worth watching. Everyone is connected somehow.

I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of "Lost" or looking to try a different flavor of novel. Great debut. Thomas is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.

-Brandon Tietz
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great ride, February 23, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
This book is not for lazy readers. Thank God! A lot of the creepiness and suspense is created by the use of the 7 different perspectives. Thomas has both urgency (the book grabs you from the very first page) and an admirable patience in his work. He lets the story and the plot progress at just the right speed. It did require paying attention to keep the ducks of the story in a row, so to speak, but it wasn't a bother. It was a pleasure. And there wasn't (as I feared there might be) a need to take notes or go back and re-read previous sections, etc.

I know basically nothing about noir or neo-noir. I've never seen Lost so I can't compare the book to it. What I do know is that Thomas has a style all his own and I love it--dark, sexy, gripping, and he's constantly cracking that whip to make me do the work, to pay attention as the pieces start to come together. It's interesting that a previous reviewer mentioned Faulkner. I thought of Faulkner, too, with regard to the style of diving right into the different perspectives and having the plot revealed gradually. But I also thought of Faulkner because this novel has what I've come to expect from Richard Thomas through his brilliant short stories--a gorgeous handle on language. His short stories keep getting better and better, and I expect his novels will do the same. I look forward to the next one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to categorize, impossible to put down, August 16, 2010
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
Six people find themselves in a lone struggle against an alien (computer-generated?) entity known only as "Assigned" who has masterminded the almost complete elimination of human life in order to run God-like experiments on the survivors. Combining elements of neo-noir, science fiction, thrillers and social commentary, TRANSUBSTANTIATE confounds the reader's expectations through a story that is impossible to put down. I took extended lunches and stayed up way too late because of this book. If you're looking for a fresh and exciting voice in contemporary literature, look no further than Richard Thomas's debut novel. You will not be disappointed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent concept but not fully developed, March 19, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
Thomas's plot is very unique and his distinctive voice blends gritty and choppy language with crisp exposition. He jumps through a fragmented time line as well as numerous narrators with ease. What I didn't care for was this book left so much to be explained. And if not explained, at least hinted at. By the end of the book there was a mountain of questions posed in the story that could not have possibly been answered with the few remaining left. I don't need to be spoon fed everything but I needed more than what I got. Without spoiling the book, a few questions I had were things such as, if the island so was well protected (as shown when Jacob tried running the fortified wall) how did Jimmy escape? And when he was trying to get back to the island, why not just reverse his steps? What trapped X on the island? Who were the women who collected a... uhhh... DNA sample from Gordon? What was Jacob's purpose? He was labeled as 'chosen' but by the end his contributions were fairly negligible. I also would have liked a bit more on X's sister. There was a lot of fertile ground for the teleporters. Overall I will be looking forward to Thomas's next book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Read of 2010, November 10, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
I went into this book not expecting much, due to the classification of "neo-noir," -I have no idea what that means, and plus the length of the novel seemed a bit on the short side considering the story description.

But I was pleasantly surprised -to say the very least. Indeed it was a quick read -but for the simple fact that I did not want to put the book down. I finished in 3 days, and I'm a slow reader.

It's a Cool Story, with Good Characters, and Superb Writing.

Here's a sample: "Nobody noticed the clipboard clattering to the ground. Its fall from the 16th floor could have killed someone, but it simply cracked in two, bits of fiberboard splintering, the requisition slips flying into the wind, drops of blood splattered over the ivory sheets."

And that's just the Writing. The story itself, well the best way that I can describe this story, without giving anything away, is a combination of modern literary greats like Will Christopher Baer and Stephen Graham Jones meets JJ Abrams. It has familiar sci-fi elements, scenes, and scenarios, yet the Characters are extremely unique and the story takes an unexpected, original direction. The approach is fresh for sure.

I've read more than a fair share of disappointing novels this past year from authors I like and usually look forward to reading, and I have to say that this is the book that's stayed with me. It was the Best Read of 2010 for me.

If you like action, mysteries, but good writing and characterization as deep and fleshed out as much as the story, then this is for you. If you're not exaclty into sci-fi or noir, like me, then this might change your mind or restore your faith in genre fiction. Think Lost with the credibility or quality of shows like The Shield, or even The Sopranos if you could force those characters to face the premise of this story.

Definitely pick this up, and watch out for this guy. I read that he has a short story being published in an upcoming anthology along with Stephen King and Peter Straub, and I can definitely see why after reading this book. Transubstantiate, by Richard Thomas -Get it now!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review from Obscuradrome, September 23, 2010
By 
Bob Pastorella (Nederland, TX, US) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
Noir. A difficult word to define, since so many have opinions to what it actually is. Technically, it's a film genre where none of the characters have any redeeming qualities. There are no heroes in Noir, at least not in the typical stereotype of hero we see in most fiction. Everyone is guilty. Think The Maltese Falcon and you're on the right track.

Neo-Noir. Basically "modern" noir. Since most Noir started on film in the 1940s and 1950s, it was all very dark, shadowy, heavy on the grey both visually and thematically. Neo-Noir is the same, just set in today's age. Film wise, think Heist.

Transubstantiate. To change from one substance to another. In theology, it's the definition of the transformation from bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

Combine this evolving change and Neo-Noir and you get Transubstantiate by Richard Thomas.

This is the story of a experiment in population control gone terribly bad. Take the worst people on the planet, slam them on an island while the rest of the world's population dies, and watch what happens. Told through seven distinct voices, including one that's not human, at a breakneck speed, and you have all the tension you could ever possibly want in a thriller, all gift wrapped in about 220 pages.

If you're wanting an easy read, look elsewhere. Richard's style is brainy without the need to have a dictionary close by. He accomplishes this by making the reader care tremendously about his characters. Yeah, they are all guilty of something, but that never overshadows the fact that each character has something precious at stake. This is what makes great storytelling, the ability to create an emotional foundation for a character that makes us realize they're just like us, no matter what they've done in their lives.

This book is in no way complicated, or "difficult". Richard writes each character in their own distinct voice, and manages to go back and forth in time, and does this effortlessly with easy to understand words. All of your senses will be tested, and he holds no punches.

As a writer, it's very hard for me to review anyone's book and not wear the writer's hat. I see more than just an awesome story here. I see massive amounts of bravery and courage. Richard took great risks writing this book in so many perspectives, yet he pulled it off so seamlessly. I struggle with if I'm going to write in first person narrative or third and this guy fires off seven first person narratives and makes it work.

It's inspiring to say the least.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Noir gets spiritual (and God is nowhere to be found), August 6, 2010
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
MILD SPOILERS *** READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Casual brutality, sex, and disorder: the heroes of noir have never been terribly endearing to the heart, but the seven nihilistic souls of Richard Thomas' Transubstantiate seem like they were born ruined, and are likely to die that way. The story draws heavily on all the beloved accouterments of the neo-noir tradition-- fractured narratives; cynicism; disorientation; ruthless beatings-- but the story branches out into other areas, exploring themes of mysticism and the unknowable, even broaching the peripheral terrors of Lovecraftian horror.

We follow our seven characters over the course of events in both real time and in flashbacks as they struggle for survival in the throes of exponentially-worsening disasters. If it's bad, it likely gets worse. Most of these people started off as convicted murderers; those were the good old days. There's the man who poisoned his cheating wife (Jacob); the woman whose sexuality seems to lead to someone's death just as often as gratification (Marcy); the ex-cop who carries out murders he considers "just" (Gordon). It all catches up to them, and soon our incarcerated antiheroes are thrown together and given what appears to be a second chance when they are chosen for a rehabilitation program on a remote island--except, it's not a rehabilitation program. It's a shadowy experiment. And how often do those turn out well?

Soon, a virus has swept over the planet, killing off most of humanity. That's not quite the bad news. With the world now in ruins, no one is at the wheel and society has run amok: bloodthirsty tribes and mad dogs roam the cities, and those not wishing to be killed (or worse) are forced to seek out safety underground. Meanwhile, back on the island, the situation is no less hopeless. Our characters, who have been forced at gunpoint by their captors to run a mock society and play pretend for the benefit of island newcomers, have but two options. Neither is terribly appealing: A) Escape to the mainland, the barbaric state of which they do not fully comprehend, or B) Remain on the island- a paradise, except that it is essentially an elaborate prison camp (hey, at least you can steal a view of the beach-- though do so at your own risk), and that the experiment in which they are trapped seems to have become a headless nightmare.

What is happening? The virus, the experiment, the charade on the island; is someone watching it all transpire, pulling the strings? That may be the character known as Assigned. The chief antagonist, Assigned's narrative thread is largely represented by nothing but a chilling readout of computer language and script logs; an abandoned program grown sentient, or something worse. Assigned is watching every move that's made on island, but who (or what) is it? A program gone haywire, or the tangible shard of some alien consciousness? Was mankind in collusion with dark forces? The character known as X seems to have an idea. In fact, he may even have been one such force; a manipulative mystic, spiritually (but not morally) enlightened, possibly inhuman, and acting as something of a psychic warden at the behest of those running the experiment. Willingly, of course. X is furthering his own agenda; this makes him somewhat detached from the plight of mankind, despite that he's probably the best shot it now has for survival. His powers are shamanistic in nature-- mental projection, healing, divination. His true motives are unclear. Is X an agent for humanity's evolution, or the harbinger of its collapse?

Though the plot is a veritable straitjacket of mysteries, the telling is lean, even spare: this book is brisk, wicked, and blood-soaked. In fact, the story reads much like a 200-page climax- Thomas' writing is always on the move, always frantic, surging forward essentially without pause, all while maintaining an intricate weave of narrative threads with deceptive ease. Our heroes may play to a familiar type- they are selfish avengers, benumbed by blood and tragedy into a final, jagged archetype of skewed morality that goes unchallenged by even the most earthshaking developments- but the backdrop of sci-fi pulp keeps everything fresh and unpredictable: otherworldly shock troops materialize out of thin air. Teleportation devices lie hidden in caves. Microchip implants. Ancient relics. Anthropomorphic animals. There is, in fact, a sense that the plot machinery of Transubstantiate runs deep, and has likely ground up many lost souls before these. In a way, this validates its corrosive noir cynicism. The story's true depth and scope are likely known only to X, and he's not exactly the sharing type. And so the cause of it all lies largely outside the reach of the unenlightened.

Still, the theme of biological evolution appears more than once during the course of the story. It's suggested that human potential has not been reached, and it's implied that the powerful X may be using the island and its inhabitants to engineer his own Eden- a vision of the future of humanity, of what it could become. If that's the case- if these survivors are destined to evolve- let's hope they learn to control their ids a bit. As it stands, it seems like one X per planet may be enough.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into Another Substance, July 8, 2010
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
START

I've fallen through time, landed I don't know where. Flashes of the past, glimpses of the future. Then, now, and when? I'm in the United States, somewhere in the middle of the country. But I don't recognize it. Word is, Europe is ... well, no one's sure. There's a killer on the loose and some master plot that has been in play since before I was even born. Then again, who's to say what's real and what's imaginary?[/news]

REBOOT

Transubstantiate, the debut novel by Richard Thomas, is a mind-swirling tale caught somewhere between neo-noir mystery and science fiction thrill. The terrain seems more like some Firefly planet, terraformed for habitation, than it does Earth as we know it. And the femme fatale has been transformed into a maternal nymphomaniac.

Postcards are manufactured. People missing or dead, living on through forged communiqués. The year is 2024. The world is half prison camp, half Big Brother. That is, everyone is monitored, everything is recorded. Behind it all, the mysterious Assigned.

I am the Walrus, it says. This is not for you, it says.

And freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, yeah.

But then, all that's left to lose is life. And I'll tell you one thing. It doesn't end with a whimper.

REBOOT

Imagine global catastrophe. Filter that through the minds of Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler. Then watch it unreel on a closed-circuit monitor. Somewhere in there, you'll find Transubstantiate.

END TRANSMISSION
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Head Trip, July 23, 2010
By 
Martin P. Eckert "PaulE" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
There's a lot to love about this book.

Mysterious experiment on a strange island? Check.

Multiple characters with distinctive, equally engaging stories? Check.

One non-human character that speaks in computer language that still manages to creep me out? Oh yeah.

The characters in Transubstantiate all want the same thing. They want out. What they want to escape from differs from character to character, from the mischevious nympho protecting her son to the man whose struggle seems be his own supernatural capabilities. And even though they are ultimately looking out for their own best interests, they may have more in common than they think. Each character is part of their own compelling story, but each story also manages to build upon the larger mystery that threads through the novel.

Thomas writes in beautiful, noir-ish prose that simultaneously brings scenes to life with visceral clarity while also establishing character and theme. If you love sentences, you'll definitely love Transubstantiate.

I will be reading it again soon, just because it's one of those books that compels you to come back.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Aren't You Already Reading This?, July 8, 2010
This review is from: Transubstantiate (Paperback)
I have a great deal of respect for fiction where the author essentially plants a foot on your ass and shoves you out the door without explanation. Things will happen, exciting things by in large, and you must adapt and figure it out as you go. It's takes a certain kind of guts to even try this, let alone pull it off successfully.

Transubstantiate is chocked full of risk. It's told from multiple, very different perspectives, one of them not even human. It sits at an odd intersection between multiple genres. It doesn't hold your hand through any of it either.

And I read it very fast, because it was all so vivid and exciting. Many parts are almost breathtakingly odd.

You should read this book. It's so hard to summarize that the best description I can think of is, "It's the opposite of boring."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Transubstantiate
Transubstantiate by Richard Thomas
Out of stock
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.