Peter Clines’ writing is strong, tight and keeps you reading. The characters are well developed and by the end of the book you’ll care about them as much as you do your real neighbors, well, the neighbors you actually like. The plot will grip you, gain a strong hold on you, and it won’t let go until the final page. The mysteries are truly mysterious and the heroes of the book come across the answers to the riddles of the apartment in a convincing style. Even though 14 is in the sci fi & fantasy genre, the way that Clines spins the story will have you believing that the events in 14 could actually happen.
The main character in 14 is Nate Tucker, a person who has not found his calling in life and is content to work a miserable temp job until something new comes along. When he moves into the Kavach building, he meets his new friends, Mandy, Veek, Tim, Debbie, Clive and Xela. There are others in the building as well, and some of them turn out to have ulterior plans of their own. The strangers slowly become friends by sharing beers on the roof of the building as they commiserate with each other about their lives and how they came to live in this apartment building. That’s when they start to notice the peculiarities, like each unit in the building has a unique floor plan, that the elevator never works, and there’s that one apartment with several padlocks on it. It doesn’t help matters much when the building manager tells them to stop snooping around. That’s when Nate and his new found friends form up their own version of Mystery Incorporated and even assign each other personas from the Scooby Doo cartoons. While that might make the book start to sound a little silly, it really fits in rather nicely with the personalities of the characters.
A book like 14 could very easily veer off the tracks and head into a wasteland of craziness, but it never does, even though the events and the answers to the mysteries of the building are rather fantastical; you never stop believing for a moment that maybe, just maybe, it could all be true. Old buildings designated as historic landmarks tend to have a charm and personality of their own. The histories, lives, and events that took place over hundreds of years inside an apartment building can put your imagination into overdrive. Peter Clines did an excellent job of melding reality with fantasy, with putting realistic characters into unrealistic circumstances, and finally providing a conclusion that leaves you satisfied.
Next month I’ll review an upcoming Star Wars book, Into the Void (Dawn of the Jedi), written by Tim Lebbon and published by Random House Publishing Group. That book is scheduled for publication May 7, 2013.
In the meantime, 14 is available now. That book was published last year by Permuted Press.