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We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory
Review by Ernest Lilley
Tachyon Publications Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 1616961716
Date: 12 August 2014 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

I picked up We Are All Completely Fine on a whim over at NetGalley without realizing either that it was shortlisted for the Nebulas or that Daryl Gregory had also written Afterparty, which is one of the few books I'd give four stars to. Out of four stars. I probably shouldn't confess that, because I'm supposed to have a clue, but this is a safe space, right? You're not all monsters, are you?

Also by Daryl Gregory:
* Pandemonium
* The Devil's Alphabet
* Raising Stony Mayhall
* Harrison Squared
* We Are All Completely Fine
Daryl Gregory Interview:
Daryl Gregory on Afterparty, We Are All Completely Fine, and Harrison Squared

We Are All Completely Fine is every bit as good as Afterparty, but being a novella, gets the job done a lot faster. That book was about a drug that blurred the line between you and whoever your notion of god was, but this work goes in the other direction, bringing together a disparate group of damaged people who've all survived something horrible. To the world, their different stories were separate and testimony to the worst that humans can do. As a group they discovery that there's nothing separate about their experiences at all, and very little that's human in the horrors that were visited on them.

Dr. Sayer has brought together the therapy group from hell. Not quite literally, but not far off. Each of the members--Martin, Stan, Barbara, Harrison and Greta--have suffered horribly, some in the recent past, some in events decades before, but all deeply scarred by the experience. For Stan, who survived prolonged captivity by a family of cannibals, Barbara whose bones were etched like scrimshaw, and Greta whose entire body is covered with intricate tracings left by razor blades in the cult she grew up in, there are visible marks, but for all the pain goes bone deep.

Harrison was the boy that stopped a madman called the Scrimshander, whose beautiful scrimshaw scored the bones of his victims, who like Barbara, another member of the group, would always wonder, wonder what story they told, hidden away under their resealed flesh. At seventeen Harrison stopped the monster, and a massive supernatural event, and if it hadn't been for someone getting hold of the story and telling it to the world as fiction, he might have been able to move on. Maybe not.

Martin wears dark glasses and lives in a VR world of his own, but the funny thing is that he's not doing it to hide from the real world, but to see it more clearly. And there's Greta, but she keeps her story longer than the others, and I won't tell it here.

So, they're all marked by some devil or other, and you have to ask what coincidence would get them all together. I mean, if you believed in coincidences.

Daryl Gregory has clearly been somewhere close to where these folks have been. He clearly knows what therapy looks like and every bit of it rings chillingly true. The man is a truly gifted writer and We Are All Completely Fine is just more evidence to the fact.

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