for 800 bucks a month
me and my friend
we got lucky
on my little drab postbellum s.corona
to the rhythms of tide
Only Human is the debut novel by JD Estrada, and the first in a series. The world-building here gets five of five stars. There’s a very rich imagination churning through these pages which kept me reading when otherwise I might have fallen off. I was confused and uncomfortable throughout the first third, stumbling alongside our courageous protagonist, Nathaniel, a human minority in a world full of demons, vampires, angels, therians, and a conscious plant kingdom. The story is ‘high fantasy’. An about-face for this career journalist turned author. You find yourself transported to various places (some on earth), from oceans to battlefields to forests to strange labyrinthine settings where shadows come to life and god knows what else. Step aside Naked Lunch, it’s time for dinner! The characters are quirky. Some are clearly dark and demonic, while others are beyond good and evil, and have settled into a murky (and endearing) gray area. A few fallen angels. And good news: the tired old morality play is mostly shoved in the trunk. Estrada emphasizes questions over answers. But there is a ripple through his universe which demands that an alliance form between disparate groups to defeat a vile enemy force, if only they can all get along for a minute.
Many of the characters enjoy deep and abiding friendships, particularly the vampires who have lived long enough to form them. I particularly enjoyed the interplay between Liam and Daniel and Nathaniel. Wonderful, cheeky dialogue. The main characters are robust. They cover a lot of ground, both physically and metaphysically. There are an awful lot of periphery characters (I had trouble keeping track of them all), and yet there is an unspoken ground always beneath them, which has something to do with mother’s lemon cake. The protagonist was endearing from the start, as he blunders his way through confusing new worlds and experiences; Nathaniel is an inquisitive human with a compelling sense of loyalty and justice. From the gate he is challenged by vampires who for some odd reason have decided to let him live (they will need him). He goes through many manipulations of body, mind and feeling, all of which are very well described. I got especially hooked when nature began to manifest around him in all sorta fascinating manner, just past the halfway point. Only as the story evolved did I begin to feel attached to his struggle in having to dig down deep to survive.
Nathaniel has to contend with the chaos and everyone around him, and when he exceeds everyone’s expectations, it does not go to his head. You get the sense that what he really has to contend with is himself. < sigh > Don’t we all? This is where he grabbed my heart. I really liked how loyal he was, putting his life on the line for his new friends. He has a wry sense of humor, I laughed many times. By the end I was pleasantly surprised by my own attachment to this story. I guess the emotional connect crept up on me. Which is good! I look forward to more adventures. This is an impressive and ambitious start for JD Estrada, and author with a talent for world-building and dialogue, and a most expressive imagination.
I am an Independent Author, Blogger, Novelist, and Social Worker. I like silence and intermittent noise. I like mostly sunshine between great storms. I feel good when devoted to something. I love a little ritual madness. I probably seem a little off. I hope I always am. I wanna keep my heart in the right place. I like to get in and out of self. I believe in freedom of self-expression, and I work very hard at my craft. I hope you take the time to read something I wrote. I try and keep the language fresh, and experiment. The one and only common element is my style, which cements the language. -K
K reads her work from http://www.katyamills.com
We were byproducts of bygone days of dirty damn flowerpushers! some suggested. Some of those who said such things, were people we trusted. Others were not. Caring, the act of caring, also had not yet withstood the weather to delineate a clear empirical map to know it by… best we could do was water the plants when they looked like they were dying. Or eat the wonderbread in the pantry before it went bad (or before some other kid ate it). We were young. Americans. Still, we were a decade from the first beacon of datastreams reflected back through space and time and taxpayers monies lumped into pretty grants all in a row, which would inform us to take hold of the ropelift (though only with fortified canvas gloves, if you expected not to get rope burn) and not let go of the new mentality of a culture embodying less that we could explain. A culture less caring? A culture less careful? A culture more populated and therefore less personal? A culture going through a difficult growing stage? Define caring. Define personal. Define growing stage. Then we might work to fight and hate and hope to someday prevent the very clear and concise examples of what for sure could never be mistaken for caring, ie, that which results from neglect.
So we all got to learn what not to do, in the presumption (or ignorance) of expecting some other behavior modelled often after someone or anyone who spent their time preparing to blow sunshine up atleast ten asses before each day was through. For the extremity could not be laughed out the room. Why? Well, because you can never have enough sunshine. And second, there could be no question of getting as far away from neglect as possible, which therefore gave allowance for extreme acts of incorrigible kindness. Whoever pastes the biggest smile over their bad news like a bandaid, got the props. Now that’s the world we grew up in. Feel sorry for us now? Nah! Shit, we could have been born in a minefield. We could have had to push a lawnmower, to make the blades cut.
Studies show that cars work better when driven.
Empirical data can be an addiction when its not a nuisance. Well, adhering to that stat, and changing out people for cars, one can (manipulatively) propose that people work better when driven. Define driven. Or just add a (silent) adverb predicate, in order to clear up any confusion. and voila! my life story and maybe yours:
People work better when driven (insane).