A Messed Up Year: First Quarter

List Price: $11.99

Add to Cart
About the author:
Author William Ryder Mann lives in southern California, and A Messed Up Year is his first novel. Read his blog at Jasperhoundgems.com; Email him at WRM@jasperhoundgems.com.

A Messed Up Year: First Quarter

Authored by William Ryder Mann

Santa Carolina is a moderately affluent scion of Southern California suburbia, within a short commute to the county court house and home to a public high school whose students begin to discover the secrets of a cave just on the edge of town. Nestled and hidden amid brambles, sage, and poison oak bushes, the limestone cavern houses a museum quality display of strangely glowing mineral crystals that seem to possess a special power of transformation.

Through a magical, ominous process, three students at Santa Carolina High School change into enviable peers, leaving Kyle Casey nearly alone in facing the results of his selfish and hormonal desires. Within Kyle's web of self seeking, things go amiss when Kyle tries to break out of his existence among the dweebs on campus to become more popular with attractive girls. In a story blending science fiction and fantasy with the budding sexual tensions of high school, just when all seems about to end well for Kyle, a dangerous and irrevocable choice threatens his future.

Kyle Casey must weigh whether to abandon the safe but frustrating life he has had with his loving single mother, a father in prison, and a nerdy rock-collecting friend. The beckoning allures of joining the in-crowd and getting involved with the beautiful Gina Duarte are powerful motivators to explore the cave's powers, as is the persuasion of a new friend who helps Kyle learn geometry. But all choices have consequences, some easy, some difficult ... many unforeseen.

As the story unfolds, the protagonist finds himself enmeshed within a conspiracy larger than he could have ever imagined. All the while, he must pretend during the day (in dealings with friends and family) that nothing is amiss. After some time adjusting to his new situation, he finds that he does not have to pretend so hard. There are helpful allies in his new life, as well as a new love interest easily able to distract him from the drama that is spiraling out of control.

This Kafkaesque novel repeatedly deals with Kafka's themes of alienation and disempowerment but with the lighter tones and setting of a contemporary southern California high school. While Kyle Casey may not be the Gregor Samsa of all time, he may well be the Gregor of his generation. English instructors who bridge this novel with a unit on Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" will find rich ore to mine.

In an effort to claw his way out of his ever-encroaching dilemma, the protagonist faces the ultimate test of loyalty and friendship. As the series continues, he will see exactly what these things mean.

Publication Date:
1470185334 / 9781470185336
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.25" x 8"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Coming of Age

Site Help Order Help Policies Contact