nakamura reality book coverReviewed by Bethany Kelly

When I read the description for Nakamura Reality by Alex Austin, I was instantly intrigued by the premise. Unfortunately, I felt that this was a case of an amazing idea being poorly executed.

The main character in the book, Hugh, leaves his two sons surfing in the ocean to meet up with his former girlfriend, and comes back to find them absent from the crowd of surfers. He goes searching for them in the vast ocean, but comes back to shore with nothing but pain, and regret. His eleven-year-old twins are gone.

Unable to forgive him, his wife Setsuko, divorces him and moves back to Japan with her father, Kazuki Ono, a famous author.

Ten years later, Hugh has made the decision to take his own life, but when he swims out to sea to drown himself, his sons appear to him, and start making him consider their true fate. With their bodies never recovered, did they really die? Or is there something else going on?

After finding out that his ex-father-in-law is back in America writing a novel with details familiar to his own life, Hugh sets out on a journey to discover what really happened to his sons that day.

This novel alternates between Hugh’s perspective, and Kazuki’s perspective—where most of it is glimpses of the novel he is writing. I ended up getting very interested in Hugh’s chapters, but I found myself skimming through Kazuki’s. The chapters told from his perspective did nothing but confuse me. I think the author was trying to add an element of suspense to the novel by putting this in the book, but it was poorly executed in my opinion. There also seemed to be a lot of filler in this novel (in both sections)–almost as if there was stuff added simply to hit a specific word count.

Finally, I found myself completely baffled by the ending to this novel. I think Austin was trying to make the ending metaphorical, but again, it was poorly executed. Overall, while I was interested in what happened to Hugh’s sons, I had a rough time reading this book to its end.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.