Sunday, March 1, 2020


Deprivation by Roy Freirich
Meerkat Press: 3/3/20
eBook review copy; 275 pages
ISBN-13: 9781946154217

Deprivation by Roy Freirich is a recommended thriller about mass hysteria and sleep deprivation.

On New York’s Carratuck Island a traumatized, silent child is found alone, abandoned on a beach, holding his handheld video game. Physician Sam Carlson checks the boy out. He is dirty, but silent and won't tell anyone who he is. Police Chief Mays wants to wait before calling social services as he is sure the boy's parents will appear. Both Carlson and Mays are battling insomnia. At the same time teenage tourist Cort is playing a dangerous game on social media with her friends, competing to see who can stay awake the longest.

The plague of insomnia spreads as residents and tourists on the town find themselves unable to sleep and turn to Carlson to help. As the small clinic is overwhelmed with patients, he suspects some bio-hazard or external cause is affecting the island, but tests indicate there is no identifiable reason for the mass insomnia. Soon it becomes clear that mass hysteria and mob violence is taking over, making the island a very dangerous place to be, especially for the silent child.

The narrative is told through three different characters, Carlson, Mays, and Cort. Carlson is the best developed character and depicted more realistically than the other two, however he's not a wholly sympathetic character. He is very cerebral, but a bit distant. Chief Mays always felt unbelievable to me. Cort's character doesn't resemble any teen girl or younger person I know. First, her character didn't read like a teen. Second, she and her friends would not be using the social media platform Freirich chose. (They have moved on to something new and once we all catch up there will be something different.)

After I finished reading I was left feeling that this is a rather odd book. At times the writing was beautiful, but at other times it felt odd and over-written. The plot starts out strong, capturing your attention and interest, but then the narrative slows down and is drawn out too long. When things do take off, they explode and move almost too quickly. While I appreciate the underlying commentary on how social media and devices (phones and games) are slowly eroding our quality of life and values as a society in many ways, untoward mass hysteria is not something new to humankind nor does it require cell phones to propagate.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Meerkat Press.

No comments: