Sam Joyce ‘Tongues’ Review
Written by: Matt Molgaard
Sam Joyce’s debut novel, Tongues will have your mind spinning and your intelligence put to the test. Joyce performs a myriad of unconventional tricks for the readers. The story is all over the place, and it feels as though there are an atypical amount of red herring setups and sudden turns. All a design to fool the reader while simultaneously igniting a flame of curiosity.
50 pages into the novel and I was certain I was about to be pulled into a novel that pits irrational Nazi scumbags against decent law abiding citizens who just so happen to have a different skin tone. 100 pages into the novel and I was certain we’d soon begin barreling down a religious corridor lined with crude, protruding jagged spikes; patches of sticky flesh hanging as far as the eye can see. 150 pages in and it occurred to me that this could have a whole hell of a lot more governmental dramatics interweaved into the intricate conflict.
About this point I made a conscious decision which I openly recited to myself: No more trying to figure this novel out. I’m just going to ride along and let it take it where it takes me, and hope for the best. Ultimately, that decision was the exact decision to be made.
You’ll receive no more specific spoilers from me. This is such an active piece of work that a, it would take a lifetime to properly examine every twist, and b, I’d essentially be stealing away from an unpredictable journey that could be likened to an extreme rollercoaster ride; fully equipped with dips and turns the human eye can’t see until it’s too late, and sudden G-force drops the human belly and brain can’t begin to process until the whole thrill-seeking experience ticks to a slow stop… or you lose your figurative lunch on the figurative passengers of the ride.
Wipe the sweat from your brow. You’re more than likely to survive a Tongues reading session than a spin on Medusa.
Prepare yourself for a blast of relentless aggression. The bloody mayhem that floods the streets of the once peaceful town of Elena, Texas calls to mind the onslaught experienced in Pine Deep (check out Jonathan Maberry’s excellent trilogy) and the homicidal outbreak in Ogden Marsh, the focal location of Breck Eisner’s rewarding remake of George A. Romero’s The Crazies.
In other words, the novel is batshit crazy. However, it’s easy to rally behind Catherine Cobb, the story’s determined and spunky, pure heroine, and it’s rather easy to loathe the string of villains (sans one, who is afforded a backstory that invokes a hint of compassion from the reader) who make their presence known while attempting to force Catherine into an early expiration date. Especially the local folks who seem to have gone mentally AWOL.
First time novelist Sam Joyce tells a speedy, engaging story with personalities to care about and conflicts to fear. While a bit wordy from time to time, Joyce has nothing to be ashamed of with this piece of work. It’s just infectious enough to ensure you won’t put the book down until the final page is wrapped.
Give this one a look, Joyce’s talents as a storyteller haven’t quite peaked yet, but there’s real promise here, and that promise bubbles to the surface time and again in Tongues.
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