14 – Peter Clines

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00012]This is actually the second time I’ve read 14. I first came across it while I was perusing NetGalley, and it’s one of the few books I’ve gotten from there that I truly enjoyed (and actually read the whole thing). I would have bought a hard copy, but around the time I was reading it digitally, hard copies weren’t available for whatever reason. But late last year, it happened to be available, and thanks to this bad habit I have of adding a book or two to any Amazon order I happen to make, it was in my hands by mid-December.

14 is the story of the mysterious Kavach building in Los Angeles. It looks normal from the outside, but to its tenants—who have experienced everything from glowing green cockroaches that die the minute they leave the building to a perpetually-empty apartment whose previous tenants have all committed suicide—it’s anything but normal. Nate Tucker, the building’s newest resident, isn’t content with the cryptic answers he gets from the Oskar, the gruff building manager, and enlists some of his fellow tenants to help him explore the building’s oddities. What they find is beyond anything they could have ever imagined, and it could spell the end for Nate and his friends—and the end of the world as they know it.

This is a heck of a story, expertly woven and paced. Even the second time around, I was holding my breath waiting for each new reveal. The characters are intriguing, sympathetic, and well-rounded, and—perhaps most importantly—seem like real people that you could be friends with. The plights facing each of them—underemployment, creative ennui, financial struggles of all stripes—are all too real to my generation, and make the characters relatable in a way that many other characters in other books aren’t.

I first read 14 on my iPad, and even though it’s usually difficult for me to concentrate on books in a digital medium, I tore through it. I tore through the hard copy even faster. Unputdownableness is one of my more important book-judging factors, and 14 passes with flying colors. Once you get past about the middle of the book, it’s completely impossible to put down, so make sure you have some time on your hands when you read it!

As much as I loved the story, there were a few very minor things that took me out of it. For instance, Clines’ insistence on using the word “ass” anytime someone’s backside was mentioned bothered me for some reason. I’m no prude, but some variation in derriere terminology would have been welcome. Same with “tits.” Breasts, boobs, bosom—come on, there are much better words than “tits.”

The only other thing that got to me—and this is about the hard copy in particular—was the layout. It’s a large book, 6”x9” I would guess, but the margins inside are very large. At least an inch could have been cut off each side and left all the words intact. I also wasn’t a fan of the choice and size of font, a sans-serif number that looked almost as if the publishers were going for a “futuristic” look. This is entirely a personal preference, but I much prefer small, compact serif fonts.

14 is Peter Clines’ debut novel (originally published in 2012) and it leaves me very excited both for his second published novel, Ex-Purgatory, as well as The Fold, a new novel he has coming out later this year. The few things that bugged me about 14 are minor, and they certainly won’t stop me from recommending this book to anyone who loves a good haunted-building story with a twist!

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