Written by: Tricia Sullivan
Publisher: Titan Books
Reviewed by: Keturah Barchers
Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan is science fiction with a hint of urban fantasy thrown in—an interesting piece that plays with higher dimensions, time, and identity. The main character, Pearl, is an angel who doesn’t know her purpose. All she is certain of is that she is drawn to helping people and fixing broken things. The beginning starts out with Pearl finding herself stuffed in a refrigerator with a piece of her missing, and the circumstances of how she got there, and who she is, is fuzzy. The story follows Pearl’s journey in finding out about herself and about the mysterious person, Kisi Sorle, who hijacked her and then stole a volatile object of hers. The tale continues to spin with intrigue when Dr. Sorle is also hijacked, but unlike Pearl, his hijacking is from the inside when another being takes over his body. The result is a unique story dealing with the question of how the past and the future mingle to create present circumstances.
Sullivan alternates back and forth between two points of view: Pearl and Dr. Sorle, for most of the book. When Dr. Sorle’s story is told, it is in second person. This is an incredibly strong technique for this story. It creates the sense of awareness that the character isn’t in control, doesn’t feel in control, and is as disassociated from himself as one can get. It’s as if the only way he can bring chaos into order is if he narrates events to himself. This second person narration brings the reader close, and at the same time, it pushes the reader and the character away. The use of second person to create distance adds a nice touch to Pearl’s relationship with Sole. When the story hits its climax, the perspective of the second person narrative changes, which adds a terrific layer to the storytelling.
Another narrator is introduced about three-fourths of the way into the book. The reason for the third point of view is apparent—it’s the easiest way to finish the story without adding several more chapters. Sometimes this technique serves a story well, but in this case, it flails a bit. Perhaps it’s that the character comes so late onto the scene that the strong character arc needed for a narrator can’t occur organically and must be forced.
Sullivan uses imagery to try to create the experience of seeing and grasping what it’s like to know and understand higher dimensions. The descriptions are beautiful by themselves, but it is a struggle to connect these pieces with the narrative seamlessly making something that was meant to enhance what a higher dimension is like, instead makes it more obscure. There is a possible cure for this; however, and that is to read the book twice. Like a complicated movie with many moving parts, a second viewing could illuminate the unclear places one comes across the first time around.
The overall story is provocative with some great one-liners and snippets of delicious insight. However, many places left me weary as I pieced together what was happening and a few of the elements of the story still don’t fit together for me. For instance, I’m still wondering about the Resistance. Should you choose to pick up Occupy Me, be ready for a read that will require focus and time.