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ME2 Hardcover – 2008
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From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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It's been said that every person has a twin somewhere on this Earth. Christian sets this idea on its ear and then some in his own personal style. Of course the narrator has a Doppelganger, the signs are obvious, and he is faced with the unimaginable horror of searching out his own uniqueness.
The story is engaging, although in places confusing -- and out of order. But I believe Christian has layered and sequenced his story this way for the purpose of keeping the reader unsettled, so he can't figure things out on his own or guess ahead.
M. Christian is the author of the novel Running Dry, and the critically acclaimed and best selling collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy. He is the editor of The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, the Best S/M Erotica series, The Mammoth Book of Future Cops and the Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (with Maxim Jakubowski), Trans Figures: Transgender Erotica, and Love Under Foot and several other anthologies. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 books including Best American Erotica and Best Gay Erotica. He lives in San Francisco and maintains a blog at [...]
Our narrator's life doesn't exactly challenge his intellect. He makes a habit of assessing people by their appearance, judging, tagging them, never really delving under the ensemble to the person's soul. He treats himself in the same way, living superficially, obsessed with his looks and how he appears to other people. He works at Starbucks, doing the same thing, living the same meaningless existence in the same way every day, his customers no more distinct or real to him than the kinds of coffee they order. Until he talks to a crazy man who tells him about the doppelgangers, the doubles, the fakes, and how there are people walking among us who are mere simulacra of humanity, trying all the time to perfect the imitation. Our narrator starts to wonder if he has a double too, and the horror starts for him when he realises he does - and that the double is rapidly taking over our narrator's existence. For the first time, he has to question just what makes him, his life and what is there that he desperately wants to call his own and no one else's.
It's a clever story exploring identity, mass consumption, the search for individualism in a world which promotes uniformity, where differences are superficial, and we become the labels we hang on ourselves and which are placed by the people. Christian asks in Me2: A Novel of Horror (Me2), exactly what is the nature of self, and how much of what we believe we are, is merely a product of accumulated possessions, experiences and delusions. He also asks how can we hold onto true individuality in a consumer driven mass-marketed society. It's a rather bleak portrait of American life, very time and place specific in its popular references, though perfectly comprehensible to the well-read non American. As `McCulture' takes over the world, and rage against consumerism and Americanisation grows, Christian is taking pointed aim at the emptiness and meaningless of an existence dominated by brand names and advertising. It's the same target that American Psycho went for, but in a very different and less bloody manner.
It's a confusing, gripping story, though it loses pacing slightly towards the end, where it becomes a tad tiresome with its extremely long denouement. It demands close attention, and the writing is layered, literate and intelligent, so not something for a lazy afternoon after a big meal. He builds the horror of the narrator's situation beautifully, though the elliptical narrative with all the quotes from other speakers, told out of sequence, will be challenging to read if you're not used to science fiction or the horror genre.
The idea of cloning, of doubles taking over one's life, isn't exactly new, but Christian's spin on the idea and the execution is crisp and fresh. If you want a sturdy, well-written horror novel which will make you think, with a protagonist who's gay in a completely non-exploitative way, then Me2: A Novel of Horror (Me2) is one to buy.
M. Christian (or is it?) puts a whole new spin to the genre of mind-bending thrillers with Me2, a twisted and psychological tale of individuality and the lack of it. Though my description doesn't sound that scary or interesting, I can't do justice to Christian's pulse-pounding skill of turning one man's relatively simple life around with the numerological Genetic Mirror Theory, which says that every human has a genetic twin. (Those who haven't heard of it can check any message board or website for TV show Lost for more info.)
Christian is very unique in his delivery, carving a Starbucks-employed, California-destined, gay "Boy of Summer" into a paranoid, mentally-intuitive, questionably-sane wanderer trying to find his true self (not matter how contradictory those adjectives are). His character's pursuit for his copycat takes him many a party and gathering, one during which he unintentionally gets a little friendly with a darkness-veiled guest.
Christian's visual descriptions (when provided) are vivid and entrancing, gathered in a somewhat confusing order to throw off the reader and any concluding thoughts they may have about this so-called twin and his gradual reign over Christian's character. It's cryptic, enthralling, horrific, fascinating, and never truly reveals its secrets - a great story, indeed.
- T.C. Robson