A Reader Opines: The Queerling by Austin Gary

The QueerlingThe Queerling by Austin Gary
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Queerling came to me through a Goodreads giveaway. It appealed to me because it is written in the form of a journal and the main character is in a mental hospital. I guess my struggle with depression and anxiety had a lot to do with it.

Preston Nesbitt is a 16-year-old “memory prodigy,” with a rare form of Asperger’s Syndrome, confined to a Portland, Oregon mental hospital for refusing to admit his participation in a viral YouTube video–showing him being struck by a car that appears to pass through him.

Before I go into my personal feelings about The Queerling let me say that this book is well written and edited. I found only two errors. The author has a healthy command of the writing skills required to produce quality work. That being said, I can only admit to a tepid reaction to the story and plot.

Preston is an interesting character, annoying, but interesting. However, his language skills made it difficult to keep up with him. My vocabulary is sufficient to understand most books and conversations, but this character made me feel like an elementary student trying to understand physics. If that had been the only stumbling block my reading experience might have been more pleasant. His constant mentioning and quotations of books I’ve never read further alienated me.

On a positive note, the Kris Kristofferson references were a delight and I loved that he has an affinity for old movies. I felt as if I could relate to this kid on at least the pop culture level.

The main thrust of the plot is the YouTube video and it is mentioned throughout the narrative, but only sporadically. Preston, being the annoying person he is, wants to diagnose the other patients confined with him; the conclusion reveals the use of his observations. The stereotypical mental patients were a disappointment as were the references to Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. For me, his actions bordered on boring and made it difficult to muster any enthusiasm for the climax.

Other reviewers have called The Queerling ‘stunning,’ ‘thought provoking’ and a ‘delight.’ I felt none of these things nor was I ‘blind sided’ by the ending. There were too many hints pointing toward the conclusion for any surprise.

I’m in the minority, so if it sounds interesting to you I recommend you read it and form your own opinion.

Purchase The Queerling:

Barnes & Noble
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Indie Bound

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