ASIN #: B0079LSQRM
File Size: 1395 KB
Copyright: February 10, 2012
Publisher: Really Blue Books
(As given by the publisher)
Rob Lasseter is the great grandson of a legendary explorer. His prized possession is an old parchment, which is thought to be a map showing the location of the fabulous reef of gold. Unfortunately, however, there are no points of external reference on the map. The only words are 'You are here,' next to an X, but Lasseter doesn't know where X is - he doesn't know where to start looking. Inspired by the strange disappearance of the White Haired girl, and the receipt of a letter addressed in his own handwriting from a place he had never been, Lasseter (with his friend Miles, who claims to be dead) embarks upon an odyssey into the centre of Australia and has some very strange adventures. Lasseter thinks he is looking for gold, but instead he finds something far more interesting. An Australian story of pan-cosmic enormity.
THEM has an intriguing premise - Rob Lasseter, a bit of a loser at life, possesses a map his family has had for generations - it promises a treasure, shows an "X" that says "You are here" but no one knows where "here" is. After losing his girlfriend, being passed over for promotion at work, Rob's life takes a turn when he meets up with his "dead" friend Miles at a bar (he's not really dead - he was going to kill himself but then the phone rang so he's still technically alive although he intends to finish the job), and they get sucked into something very weird. Rob's map gets stolen and he and Miles board a train to Thule, a new city in Australia, though they're not exactly sure why.
Rob gets pulled into this network of powerful and famous people, and becomes the Chief Spin for the leader of the new government. Part One of the story ends with Rob and Miles possibly being shot at when they are close to uncovering a huge secret.
And then Part Two gets weird. First of all, the perspective changes. Part One is mostly told from the first person of Rob, with short interjections of government correspondence reporting on their take on what's going on with Rob, and there's a small portion where it seems like it shifts to Miles and then back to Rob. Honestly, when I read it I thought it was a mistake on the author's part because it seemed so arbitrary.
But then in Part Two, the line gets blurred even further and I don't think it was a mistake at all. Sometimes it's Miles, sometimes it's Miles inhabiting Rob's body (?) and sometimes it shifts to other characters. Are they dead? Are they in some kind of LOST sideways world?
I'm not sure I understood at all times what was going on, to be honest with you. I read this whole thing, with interest, but there were times when I was all, HUH???? I kept reading and reading, wanting to understand. At last, I think I kind of understood, but I'm not sure I fully ever grasped what was going on.
There are some big philosophical ideas the story centers around. First, there's the notion that the government, and the people who call the shots in the government, are the ones who benefit from the hard work of the working class (e.g. the farmers, tradesmen, etc.). Then there's a sort of call to action about the individual self, which is summed up nicely in this phrase: "Some of us are stepping stones, and all others are but the grains of sand between them ... It is up to you where you cause the path to lead." Early on in the book, Miles identifies some people as "Gunnas" - meaning, they are always claiming they're "gunna" do something, "gunna" go somewhere, "gunna" make changes ... and never take any action. It made me think about myself - how many times have I said I was "gunna" write a book, or "gunna" lose weight, etc.? Have I done those things?
Although sometimes confusing, THEM is an interesting ride that is thought-provoking and hits upon many issues facing humanity, from the political to gender issues to the personal quest for happiness and fulfillment.
I will recommend this one with a few caveats: first, as I said, it will confuse you. You will have no idea what is going on. The author does this on purpose, so hang on for the ride. Second, there are f-bombs. Lots and lots of them. If this offends you, don't read. Third, there's sex. Lots and lots of sex. If this offends you, don't read. However, if you're ok with all three of those, then I think you will enjoy the humor, characters (even though at times you'll have no idea what character you're currently reading), innovative writing style, and interesting twists and turns.