The Flame Alphabet
by Ben Marcus
(*)(*)(*)(*)( )(28)
Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, a gripping page-turner as strange as it is moving, this intellectual horror story ensures Ben Marcus’s position in the first rank of American novelists.

Tony Su's Review

Tony SuTony Su wrote a review
00
(*)( )( )( )( )
Feverishly rambling, blatantly illogical, barely coherent or making any sense, this is a crazed, mad dream as unfounded and sick as the disease it describes, a nightmarish book to suffer through- hands down the worst read of my year.

Without a word on the origin, cause, or later any plausible research on the cure of this language epidemic, which makes all adults fatally susceptible to hearing, reading, and/or comprehending words, the book proceeds to tell a tale that's as exasperatingly ridiculous as it is maddeningly insubstantial. Science fiction can and should function on out-of-this-world fantasies, yes, the more irrealstic the better, but some kind of narrative must be there to support the suspension of disbelief, some basic plotline, relatable logic or the most fundamental context for the reader to hold on to. Throwing our a random conspiracy theory and not dealing with any of the questions leading up or behind it is grossly negligent and ultimately completely ineffective. Yes the author does offer up follow-up plot development like the jewish holes, the quarantine, the facility, but none of it is connected with anything even remotely resembling science or even common sense. He just keeps throwing out improbable, isolated ideas about this and that, following a train of thought as self-centered as it is unconvincing. The whole jewish background story is as out-of-the-blue as the rest and just not interesting at all. Also contributing to the total failure in the narrative department is the feeble description of the family dynamics. Both the husband-wife and the parents-daughter angles feel paper-thin, not likely to trigger warmth, sympathy or any kind of emotional involvement.

Ironically, the only thing worth commending about the book is the language it employs. Constantly referred to as the deadliest pollutant, the words used by the author are admirably varied and colorful. But in view of the overwhelming boredom they invoke, all that linguistic sophistication on the surface can't really salvage much.
Tony SuTony Su wrote a review
00
(*)( )( )( )( )
Feverishly rambling, blatantly illogical, barely coherent or making any sense, this is a crazed, mad dream as unfounded and sick as the disease it describes, a nightmarish book to suffer through- hands down the worst read of my year.

Without a word on the origin, cause, or later any plausible research on the cure of this language epidemic, which makes all adults fatally susceptible to hearing, reading, and/or comprehending words, the book proceeds to tell a tale that's as exasperatingly ridiculous as it is maddeningly insubstantial. Science fiction can and should function on out-of-this-world fantasies, yes, the more irrealstic the better, but some kind of narrative must be there to support the suspension of disbelief, some basic plotline, relatable logic or the most fundamental context for the reader to hold on to. Throwing our a random conspiracy theory and not dealing with any of the questions leading up or behind it is grossly negligent and ultimately completely ineffective. Yes the author does offer up follow-up plot development like the jewish holes, the quarantine, the facility, but none of it is connected with anything even remotely resembling science or even common sense. He just keeps throwing out improbable, isolated ideas about this and that, following a train of thought as self-centered as it is unconvincing. The whole jewish background story is as out-of-the-blue as the rest and just not interesting at all. Also contributing to the total failure in the narrative department is the feeble description of the family dynamics. Both the husband-wife and the parents-daughter angles feel paper-thin, not likely to trigger warmth, sympathy or any kind of emotional involvement.

Ironically, the only thing worth commending about the book is the language it employs. Constantly referred to as the deadliest pollutant, the words used by the author are admirably varied and colorful. But in view of the overwhelming boredom they invoke, all that linguistic sophistication on the surface can't really salvage much.