Review: We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory
Published by Tachyon Publications on August 12, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Harrison was the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time popping pills and not sleeping. Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by unreadable messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. Martin never takes off his sunglasses. Never. No one believes the extent of their horrific tales, not until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these seemingly-insane outcasts form a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within—and which are lurking in plain sight.
I’ve read a good number of really positive reviews for both this and Harrison Squared and since We Are All Completely Fine sounded a bit darker, I decided to try it first. It is dark, and it is also quite different from anything I’ve read (at least in quite a while). The story focuses on a support group where the commonality between the members is their traumatic encounters with monsters, things that normal ordinary people think are just stories.
The perspective switches between the 5 members of the support group as well as the counselor that organized it. Changing perspectives like this allows the reader to identify and understand each of these characters a bit better. They are all dysfunctional in their own ways and the each have a horrific past that you would never guess at to look at them. I don’t want to say much about the history of each of the characters because this is a short book (novella actually), and I just feel it would make a better reading experience to know very little. But people are all from varied backgrounds, it is a group of people with nothing else in common but surviving nightmares. Dr. Sayer, who brought them all together, sits back and listens and tries to guide them to function as a support group.
This book is not a “fun” read by any stretch of the imagination. It dark, disturbing and is full of troubled people trying to appear normal when they feel anything but. They are survivors that no one can possibly relate to, no one can imagine the horrors they have faced. Except perhaps the other members of this group that Dr. Sayer has put together. As we explore their past and they get to know each other, we see the group come together. And while it is not “fun”, it is suspenseful, creepy and thrilling. It is still a great reading experience, just not a light, happy, feel good type of read.
After reading this, I am quite a bit more interested in Harrison Squared than I was before (Harrison is one of the characters in support group).I definitely recommend the book, it is very interesting, and a great read. I really enjoyed seeing how it all came together.