Bullettime, by Nick Mamatas

Bullettime, by Nick Mamatas book coverGenre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  ChiZine Productions
Published: 2012
Reviewer Rating: three stars
Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

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Bullettime by Nick Mamatas is a nihilistic, young adult, coming-of-age novel with a small dash of potential science fiction thrown in. Hard to say how much of the science fiction aspect is real or is just in the head of a tortured teen named David.

High School is miserable for David, and he is in real danger in his school. Almost everyone hates him, he gets beat up, and even stabbed. With a constantly working and raging father and an alcoholic mother, he gets little relief at home.

Somehow, a gorgeous and inventive girl befriends him and opens up his mind to be able to view the matrix of how the choices he makes leads him to multiple different outcomes. The novel has dual points of views. The David who is in the background and sees the end game of the choices each different David makes and the main David we follow as he marches towards various levels of his own doom.

Most of David’s dooms revolve around the different choices he makes when he decides to bring a gun to school. However, as mentioned above, these different views of his choices and even the girl he meets, might just be his own inner psychosis. If this is the case, the novel just becomes a story about how an abused teen brings a gun to school.

I am usually a big fan of Chizine, but this did not seem up to their usual par. As some may know, I am not a huge fan of young adult fiction to begin with and also not a fan of gun violence, so any glorification of such does not sit too well with me.

I wanted to like David, but he possessed the annoying self-indulgence mixed with universal disdain, which is what makes teenagers often so hard to deal with in the real world. I also did not like how the lip service to the science fiction aspect became a vague uncertain side note and never either helped no hindered the primary David we followed.

The book had some strong points, such as the conflict and powerless aspect David had to deal with. I wanted him to think of an answer and pull himself out of the dregs of his own life.

So an interesting novel, but not one I would give a troubled teen to read.

Michael D. Griffiths

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