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Day For Night Kindle Edition
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If you are new to reading Stacey Bryan and want an opinion on what "food group" her well-rounded protagonist Rae comes from, think Lizzy Tucker from Janet Evanovich's Lizzy and Diesel series of novels. While Bryan's main character hails from the west coast and has a resume earmarked "entertainment" and Lizzy works as a pastry chef in Salem, Massachusetts, they could have easily been raised best friends, with the same dry wit, sharp sense of humor, acute observations of the world around them, susceptibility to a good-looking men, and ability to grapple with supernatural, surprising elements invading their everyday lives, including otherworldly ones where anything unpredictable can and will happen.
Written in first person, "Day For Night" is all about Rae, as she witnesses the unraveling of her world as she knows it. Yes, she is flawed, but her emotional vulnerability and raw honesty about what she's been through to become the woman she is makes her engaging in her imperfection. Bryan has a talent for writing natural dialogue with a touch of sarcasm, and some of my favorite characters she introduces in this novel (aside from the protagonist, of course), are Gany (Andrygen's ten-year-old son), the Dadalians, and, of course, Rex. True to Southern California, types of cars from Mini Coopers to the classic 280Z lend specific Los Angeles seasoning to the novel. And, like in all great works, Rae successfully navigates the journey from being fundamentally disgruntled to (at least by the very last poetic pages) arrive at a place where she acknowledges and appreciates the kaleidoscopic events which have led her through the novel's pages. In short, Rae ends up being a memorable character with a lot of bite, and if you don't know what I mean by that, grab this delicious novel, chomp into it, and enjoy it from beginning to end. This novel, like the main character, shines, not burns, and its final pages, which leave an opening to more adventures as vast as the ocean Rae finds herself in, are as sun-dappled and uplifting as they come.
As I'm sure that Bryan would like to point out, don't get too caught up in genre labels. While there is more than enough to satisfy romance and horror readers, it's important to note that this is solid read through and through and will appeal to just about any reader. Bryan brings a level of literary quality that results in a very engaging and highly accessible read.
There's a lighthearted vibe running throughout but that doesn't mean that Bryan does not go deeper. You'll find an amazing array of characters and a level of depth that will resonate and stay with you.
Some of the reviews posted here I agree with, especially the one that describes the heroine Rae as a flawed character that goes on without complaining about her mishaps - even big ones like having a shark bite off your fingers - not to mention having your date try to drive a stake through your heart. The absence of Rae’s fingers gives her unwanted attention and sympathy from people. (Might gnawed-off fingers be a heightened symbol of biting one’s nails in the frantic world of today?) She quietly suffers in a whirl of chaos, deprivation, anger, drink, physical pain, and missing laundry. Yet she keeps loving, lusting, trying to register for college courses, and being kind to people by baking cookies and taking care of strange alien children. Her brand of courage is new.
Imagination wells throughout this book. For example, when Rae goes on a date with her physical therapist, her bad knee threatens to buckle as she swoons. This triggers an interior yelling-match between Rae and her knee. (Reminds me of Shakespeare’s CORIOLANUS, in which a senator jokingly makes a stomach smile and speak.) This is one angry knee!
Here’s a favorite passage from the book. Rae admits to herself that she is in denial. (p. 128) “And then I couldn’t forget regret, either, denial’s make-out partner. Lately, shock and denial had been engaging in extreme PDA in my life, locking together in a contortionist’s embrace. Usually regret and denial were the ones that were eternally engaged, never marrying, but so alike in their uselessness that it was just easier to stay together. But now that big-headed monsters were kidnapping folks in broad daylight and doing God knows what with them…I was ready to listen again, or have someone listen to me. […] I just wanted somebody else—anybody else—to share in the terror with me so I didn’t feel so alone. An aloneness surpassing Sherman Oaks.”
A favorite scene is after a consciousness-raising meeting where the leader gives the participants new names. One he dubs Impotent. Then Rae is given a special name. (p. 133) “Then Riot, Attention, and Jilted burst into laughter. Boom remained stern, an island of male reason surrounded by the swirling eddies of female whimsicality. ‘Bob would like to see you after the meeting, which has now concluded,’ said Boom, looking at me. ‘Bob? Bob who, the director?’ asked Jilted. She looked impressed. Everyone fought their way out of the big yellow chairs and eventually managed to stand up.”
Sometimes genuine and subtle beauty glimmers in this perverse universe. An alien, vampire, vampire killer (of gracious deportment) or reality-show has-been may exhibit wonder, generosity and understanding, while taking pause from trying to one-up, annihilate, or suck the guts out of another. At some point, a little alien, toting Rae’s lost yellow bra, tries to communicate a message including what seems the mantra of this book: “Shine, not burn.” An afterglow of intelligence and imagination lingers after reading this story. A fine and fun achievement.