Janus Quadrifrons Kindle Edition
|Length: 167 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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I think the real issue for me was that the fine line between simulating the chaos of an individual character’s headspace and simply creating a chaotic reading experience was definitely crossed. This was so much to the far end of chaos that I simply did not enjoy, or really understand, most of the read. Again, there’s only so much confusion I’m willing to endure as a reader before I become frustrated and want to stop reading. It took me a full month to get through this book, not because I’m a slow reader, but because I literally could only take it in small doses.
The non-traditional method of indicating dialogue was also jarring. I regularly couldn’t figure out who was speaking (if they were truly speaking at all) or what had been spoken versus mere thoughts. To make matters worse, the dashes to indicate dialogue were used inconsistently, leaving me in a constant state of confusion, wondering whether a line hadn’t been spoken aloud (even though it was clearly a continuation of a “conversation”) or whether it was just an error on the part of the author. And at some point in the novel, things switched from a dash indicating dialogue to a dash followed by traditional quotation marks, which just confused me more. I couldn’t figure out if I’d misinterpreted those dashes all along and now people were REALLY talking or if this was just another inconsistency. And if it was purposeful, what did it mean when dashes were combined with quotation marks? How did the meaning of this structural change differ from just dashes? It frankly hurt my brain too much trying to figure these things out and as a result, I struggled to get past these issues. I do believe some of the confusion was probably intentional, but much of it was also overdone, to the point that I was constantly wondering whether certain developments were purposeful to the story or just sloppy editing.
And speaking of editing, there are quite a few spelling, punctuation, missing words and grammar errors, though not so many as it detracted from the reading experience (my eternal state of confusion did this instead). What honestly kept me reading despite my confusion were the true moments of poetic beauty, both in words and in ideology, scattered throughout the text. For example: “Life grows and dies on her own terms.” And the concept of truth and lies: “Three lies for a hidden truth” and “Three lies for a fake truth.”
I should also add that I read this as part of a Young Adult review group and I am truly perplexed at its inclusion in this genre. It doesn’t feel YA at all, nor does its protagonist / narrator feel like a young adult. In fact, all the characters feel decidedly adult to me.
Overall, I found Janus Quadrifrons to be a confusing, difficult book to read. However, as mentioned before, the lyrical language and the intriguing, ambitious premise kept me engaged enough to keep coming back to finish the work. Ultimately, I can only rate this as 3 stars, which quite frankly is probably a bit generous given how I struggled reading this. However, I do feel that Janus Quadrifrons has potential and with judicious editing and some careful smoothing of particularly confusing sections, would merit a higher rating.
[This book is] a mind game, an adventure to perception . . . Once you are certain of something, I will take that “something” away.
Remember. It’s a game and you are playing along with the characters.”
The opening to the “Prologue” to Janus Quadrifrons is a good set-up for the kaleidoscopic roller-coaster ride to follow. You might suspect, after reading that opening, trying to draft a synopsis of the trip to come would be near impossible and also rather unfair to new readers.
It doesn’t take many pages to realize that “Janus,” the narrator of the yarn, is never sure what is reality and what isn’t. Does he or she really have the power to get into other people’s minds and look through their eyes? Is she insane, her, or his, mental faculties distorted by brain cancer? Or is he the subject of mind-altering experiments using drugs and strange devices? Are the people Janus interacts with really there or pieces of his/her imagination, are they living or dead? Are their identities being manipulated in some unknown way? Is time being bent or reversed with blackouts robbing Janus of his memories? What is truth, is there such a thing, and what is illusion? Who are the hunters, who are the killers, and who is killed and who is hunted and why? How many times can one person die and return?
Author Spark D' Ark is all about posing questions with questionable answers and posing riddles with illusory solutions page after page. As her surreal stew comes to a boil, Spark stirs in the Prometheus virus which connects with mega-genes that open the memories of ancestors in the genetic code and clones pregnant with clones and the protagonists apparently trapped in time loops that return them to events decades ago when everything began. Or is it all a recurring dream?
The author dedicates her book to readers who don’t finish the book, apparently anticipating a readership who opt not to keep up with the game. I can sympathize with such an audience. Janus Quadrifrons isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea as it isn’t designed to meet most literary expectations, just as Spark signaled in her “Prologue.” On the other hand, other readers are likely to enjoy the psychological journey, especially those accustomed to the tricks of post-modern literature. In particular, no one should feel cheated by the “variant” endings in the payoffs in the final two chapters. Of course, there’s no shortage of sci fi yarns featuring characters dealing with shifting identities or manipulated consciousnesses.
For the record, Janus Quadrifrons seems crafted to be a stand-alone story, not the launch of a new series. As it happens, English is not the author’s first language—Greek is. Some of the character names have Greek roots and are used as archetypes for their symbolism. However, there are very few indications this book was written by someone using English as a second language. It’s not a long book, so come on in, bring no preconceptions with you, and go where no one has traveled before.
Do you want to feel stupid? Buy this book.
Do you want to make your ex feel stupid? Buy this book for him/her.
Have you ever wondered what would it feel like if you were a crazy bitch on drugs? Buy this book. (If you are a woman, don't bother. You have PMS and it's free of charge.)
Are you a fan of best sellers & prize winning novels? Don't buy this book.
Are you a posh, succesful and adored person in a parallel universe? Wake up!... and buy this book in this universe.
Save one author at a time. They always need another cup of coffee and we want them to talk less and write more while hidden in their caves.