Book Book Book Book
Commentary Commentary RSS Reviews Podcasts_Audio Podcasts RSS Blog Links Archives Indexes
S. G. Browne
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2010

New American Library / Penguin
USA Trade Paperback, First Edition
ISBN 978-0-451-23128-4
Publication Date: 11-02-2010
256 pages, $15
Date Reviewed: 11-06-2010

Index:  Fantasy  General Fiction

Fabio should be happier than he is. He is after, the incarnation of Fate, though he's changed his name. But sitting in a mall in Paramus New Jersey, he find that he loathes Destiny, who gets to handle all the great humans. No, Fabio isn't happy with this own Fate, and it is a fate, to provide fate for the 83% of us who ... won't amount to all that much.

S. G. Browne has a very distinctive prose voice. He is as dry as the desert. You can hear the wind whistling past his lonely characters as they bumble and stumble into lives — even in this case, eternal lives — that are filled with longing and regret. Yet Browne knows how to channel the regret we all feel into sentences and stories that are flat-out hilarious, because they're connected to our emotions. At least, for the 83% of us who have a Fate, and not a Destiny.

Browne's new novel is a fascinating study in prose voice. His first novel, 'Breathers,' was a pretty gory zombie tale, with the gore factor ameliorated by a rather sweet romance and that done-dry sense of humor. This time around, the supernatural trope is the Gods brought to life. But it's not just the Gods, (though we do have Jerry in charge) it's Fate, Destiny, the seven deadly sins; all of the iconic attributes of humanity personified and set loose amidst the 83% of us here in the 21st century. They have lives too, and for Fabio, that becomes a problem.

'Fated' offers all the humorous pleasures of 'Breathers,' with a refreshingly imaginative take on the daily lives of those who must endure eternal lives. There are rules of course that are supposed to govern the behavior of the immortal. But they can be broken.

Fabio is suffering from the ennui of the immortal, at least, until he crosses paths with Sara, a beautiful woman who is the subject of Destiny, not Fate. As their paths cross, Fabio begins to get involved in the lives of his charges, breaking rule #1. Then he fall in love with Sara, and lives start to really go off the rails.

Browne grounds his novel in Fabio's first-person narration, and it's a wise choice. He's a great ride, a steady worker who is growing tired of his job. He just happens to have a job and a life that allows him to control or derail the lives of others. The layered vision of this supernatural trope allows Browne to provide the reader with both real emotions and an endless supply of way over-the-top ironic humor. Fabio's prose voice allows Browne to poke fun at literally everything and everyone, up to and including Jerry, that is, God.

Because we identify with Fabio — who hasn't had a job that left them envious of another's line of work? — we care about him, and his fate. It's a great twist. But Browne knows when to stop as well, when to ratchet back on the absurdity. There is a sense of balance in 'Fated' that is sure and certain, which makes reading quite pleasurable. Once you buy the premise and the prose voice, your enjoyment of the novel is, well — fated.

A big part of the enjoyment comes from the large cast of immortals, who all sport very mortal flaws that seem to perfectly compliment their attribute; Sloth is narcoleptic, for example. This provides Brown with an almost eternal series jokes. Told in the desert-dry prose of Fabio's voice, it all works, no matter how silly it seems in abstract. 'Fated' is smart and funny, with a real emotional connection that makes it smarter and funnier. There is one small problem, however. 83% of its readers are going to spend a fair amount of their reading time trying to convince themselves that they were destined, not fated to the read 'Fated.'

Review Archive
All Reviews alphabetized by author.

General Fiction
Non-Genre, general fiction and literature.

Supernatural fiction, supernatural horror and non-supernatural horror.

Science Fiction
Science fiction, science fantasy, speculative fiction, alternate history.

Fantasy, surrealism and magic realism.

Crime, thrillers, mystery, suspense.

Non-Fiction, True Crime, Forteana, Reference.


Archives Indexes How to use the Agony Column Contact Us About Us