The publisher describes the plot like so:
A small American city is under siege. A group of starving artists – led by a reclusive, sweatpants-wearing billionaire – is determined to overthrow the government by any means necessary. With little hope for peace, a neurotic young gadabout, fresh off a failed suicide attempt, takes it upon himself to save his hometown from ruin. Along the way he encounters revolutionaries, nitwits, weirdos, perverts, dreamers, and something called Danceramics.
The thing is, first-time author Kittleman, who is otherwise an art lawyer, doesn’t write in a way that immediately lets you know what the plot is all about. You dive in, and meet a character, Rufus, who is trying to kill himself simply because he’s a rich guy who doesn’t have to work, and all his friends have left the city to avoid the war. He’s the type of character who seems shallow, and at first, I didn’t like him one bit. You begin to like him more as the plot unfolds and he meets characters who changes the way he looks at things, but you never expect for The Great Peace to turn out like it does.
The author keeps you guessing the entire time. The book takes place in a sort of Anycity, USA. I don’t think the author ever defines it, but you can imagine it being as large or small as you’d like. I do know that it’s in the United States and probably on the East Coast, however, but Kittleman somehow makes that seem less important. He doesn’t spell things out like the narratives in many novels do, and it somehow works.
I often wondered “Where is this going?”, even as I neared the end of the book. In fact, this is one of those stories where everything falls into place, literally, during the last few pages. Everything you’ve read up until that point suddenly clicks. It all makes sense and becomes interconnected in a way that you couldn’t previously see. It’s fun and it’s exciting, but I can see how it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste.
If you can keep yourself guessing without wanting to put the book down, Ryan George Kettleman will reward you. Despite a book that takes place during a war between an increasingly-delusional-and-powerful government and a handful of artistic rebels, there are plenty of places where I laughed out loud–and this isn’t common for me. Rufus befriends Ashley, a rebel who reconsiders her life shortly after meeting him, and her brother, the leader of the rebellion. Together with a third friend, who does too many drugs and has too much sex but provides just the right amount of comic relief, they form a three-man band who performs songs against the government. It’s all very crazy, very unexpected and entirely enjoyable.
I finished this book in just a couple sittings. It’s not long, nor is it difficult to read. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it is a sometimes-this-is-just-what-you-need afternoon distraction. The Great Peace ultimately ends in peace, but it’s not about that or war. It’s about some mix of life, finding oneself, making a statement and connections in everything. In the end, I think you’ll like
this type of peace.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion on Reviews by Cole.