I wish I would have read this sooner.
Because had it been in contention two weeks ago We Are All Completely Fine would have hit my Top Ten easily.
Alas, I must content myself with telling everyone to read Daryl Gregory’s brilliant, creepy novella. And nominating and hopefully voting for it in next year’s Hugo Awards.
We Are All Completely Fine focuses on a therapy group comprised of five survivors of horrific trauma.
Really, really horrific trauma.
Stan had his extremities eaten by cannibals. Barbara’s bones were scrimshawed by a serial killer. Harrison Harrison is the child survivor of a town beset by supernatural phenomena, whose life was the basis for a successful children’s novel. Matthew won’t remove his virtual reality glasses. And Greta, the final member, is covered head to toe in scars and refuses to talk about her ordeal. The five are brought together by a psychologist who may be hiding secrets of her own.
In what feels like an accurate portrayal of group therapy (Gregory’s wife is a psychologist herself) the members reveal their secrets slowly, feeling out each other to determine how much they can expose their horror to the light. We see just how damaged these survivors are, and, as the story progresses, how much more growth may be necessary.
As each member tells their story, Gregory slowly reveals their experiences are interrelated. Each hold a piece of the puzzle to unlock terrors that have trapped them in a sort-of supernatural PTSD — and how their nemeses are still lurking on the fringes of reality.
There are elements of Lovecraftian horror, as these five come face-to-face with unspeakable horror and are unable to return to normalcy. Gregory’s characters exist on the border between ordinary reality and eldritch madness — and they are attempting to preserve humanity while saving their own sanity.
And while the novel built to a stunning ending, it left me wanting more. Thankfully Gregory is returning in 2015 with Harrison Squared, a YA novel which will focus on Harrison’s events.
I can’t wait.