Before I start today’s post, I just want to say one quick thing. I love getting free books. And if all I have to do in return for getting free books (good ones are especially appreciated) is write down a few notes on my thoughts about the book and give it a rating of stars on a couple sites, well, I can definitely handle that.
As such, when Chris Jane (which may or may not be the author’s real name…but who really uses their real names anymore anyways, right?) sent me an e-mail asking if I would read/review his (I think Chris is a he…Just realized that I’m not sure if I verified gender through the use of pronouns in biographies or anything) upcoming new release, it didn’t take me much work to say yes. Once again, free books are hard to turn down, especially since I’ve been in the situation where I’ve had plenty of spare time to get some reading done.
And I flew through this book. It’s no short title, but I managed to knock it out in just about 3 sittings, which is pretty solid for me, the guy who usually reads right before sleep, meaning I may or may not already be half in the bag before I begin to read.
But who really wants to read all this junk about the state of my mind when I read? You just want to read whether or not it’s a worthwhile book for you to pick up when it comes out at the end of the month (November 22nd, folks), right?
Fine then, people who don’t care about the rest of my words…here’s the review already:
The Year of Dan Palace starts out simply enough, with a minor domestic dispute. Dan and his wife Nina seem to be having difficulty, although the reason for that difficulty isn’t entirely clear. All we really know is that Dan plans on leaving for someone else. And then we find that an asteroid which may at some point impact the earth (according to Dan’s faith, in the following six months) is playing a large part in Dan’s decision to leave his current home and move forward with his dream of pursuing a different woman.
This opening scene, which takes up at least a couple chapters, really helps set the tone for a book that will follow Dan on his ‘adventures’ during what he believes will be the last days of the Earth’s existence. Adventures is a rather loose term, of course, because Dan doesn’t seem capable of letting go, of anything.
Like a male version of Eat Pray Love, where the main character doesn’t seem to really learn anything from the experience and already started out rather selfish, The Year of Dan Palace shows us Dan’s on-going struggle with love in a world where he believes the end is nigh. His constant internal battle with himself over how he wants to live his life is at the forefront of every single moment in this captivating text, as we find ourselves yelling at the book in an attempt to convince Dan to get over himself and just start living life for once.
That’s not to say that Dan does nothing. In fact, he does go one something of an adventure, he does find several new friends along the way, and he does, ultimately, experience several experiences that would have fallen under the caption of Bucket List on a hastily scratched notepad hidden in someone’s back pocket. But the real story lies with Dan trying to figure out life, at middle age. A late-comer’s coming of age story, The Year of Dan Palace seems to attempt to summon the likes of John Irving’s earlier works, telling a quirky tale about a quirky man and seeing how that quirky man can survive in today’s world. And in that summoning, I have to say, there’s a fair amount of success.
This book will grab you and hold you until you finish the final pages, all the time hoping that Dan does find some happiness, or at least validation of his greatest fears, by the time the book ends.
I’ll leave it to you to find out whether or not he does.
Simply put, this is a book I heartily recommend putting onto your kindle, or bookshelf. The writing is solid, the characterization fun, and the story itself is unique and will cause you to think about it well after you finish the final words.