Book Review: Static by Eric Laster

by - 12:54:00 AM

Title: #Static
Author: Eric Laster
Pages: 336
Genre: YA Mystery
Release Date: 12 April 2016

From Goodreads: "When Curtis Brooks starts receiving phone calls from his older brother Wilt, who’s been dead a week, he’s sure it’s to help him find evidence that will lead to a murderer’s arrest. But Wilt claims he wasn’t murdered; his calling, meant to help him adjust, is standard protocol for newly deceased at the Aftermart—a kind of inescapable, ever-expanding Walmart filled with discontinued products. Wilt’s death ruled a homicide, Curtis embarks on a dangerous plan to find the killer, which soon has him scheming against a billionaire and floundering toward love with his brother’s ex-girlfriend Suzy, all while struggling through high school and his single mom’s poor choices. Why does Wilt help Curtis win over Suzy, even as he organizes a rebellion at the Aftermart? Who’d wanted him dead? Curtis risks his life to answer these questions, in the process forging a bond with his brother unlike any they’ve ever had."

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review!

Static was a very different read for me. It starts off with Curtis getting a phone call from his dead brother, Wilt, and doesn't stop. Wilt is calling from a place called Aftermart, which he describes as a Walmart for the dead filled with old or discontinued products. He claims that him contacting Curt is part of his therapy, but as the phone calls continue, Wilt unknowingly gives Curt clues regarding his sudden death...or murder. Of course, no one believes Curt and believes that he's making the phone calls up as a way to deal with Wilt's death. But the more phone calls that come through, the more clues he gets, and the closer Curt gets to solving the death of Wilt. In the process, the boys get closer than they ever were when Wilt was alive.

I must admit, throughout the whole book, I truly believed that Curt was just imagining the phone calls as a way to cope with Wilt's death. It felt like the clues were possibly something that Curt could have discovered on his own, but that he was imagining Wilt giving him the clues because he wanted his death solved by Curt. I think that if there was a twist that Curt was crazy and just imagining the phone calls, and the people that also "spoke" to Wilt were just going along with Curt to try and help him move on, that the book would have been that much better.

The banter between Curt and Wilt was probably my favorite thing about the book. I liked that their relationship evolved throughout the book and that you got some backstory to their relationship when Wilt was alive. You really got to see (read?) how they went from hardly ever speaking when Wilt was living to now they speak pretty much every 50 minutes. Also, Wilt tries to help Curt with some things in his life like getting through his death, dealing with their crazy mother and absent father, and even getting with his ex-girlfriend, Suzy. They go back and forth at each other and call each other names as brothers usually do, but by the end you can really tell that they love each other and that losing Wilt was harder on Curt than he was willing to admit. Their relationship goes from non-existent, to best friends, and I was able to relate that to my own life, which is always good when a book can make me think about my personal life and relationships.

One of the oddest things about this book is the "pseudo-siblings" that show up periodically. After Wilt dies, the mother kind of loses her mind and starts bringing home random kids. She claims they're from some foreign country and that she adopted them, but Curt is quick to realize (not yet point out verbally to her, however) that adoption takes way too long for her to round up three kids. It was weird because the kids were basically servants. They cooked and cleaned during the day and slept at night, but they never really did anything else. It was never really explained why the mother was basically collecting kids, but my conclusion was that she was just trying to fill the hole that losing Wilt created for her. Still, it was the oddest thing I've read in a book lately.

Something that I did enjoy about the book was the parallel between what was happening with Curt and Wilt. While Curt was trying to solve Wilt's murder, Wilt was trying to incite a rebellion at Aftermart. I enjoyed how, as the story progressed and as Curt was making progress on solving the murder, Wilt was making progress on figuring out the inner workings of Aftermart and trying to get them to essentially "release" the people in Aftermart. They are both progressing in their tasks simultaneously, and when Curt reaches the end of his investigation, so does Wilt, and I just really appreciated the parallel between the two and how it connected them even more.

While I really enjoyed the book, I found the ending to be really lackluster. It was a "happy" enough ending but the final page just really left me wanting more. I think when I finished I had to go back and read it because it just felt so meh. The whole book was fun to read and I liked the concept of getting phone calls from the dead, but the last page left me quite unsatisfied. But it was literally only the last page, the rest of the book was great!

If you're looking for what I would call a contemporary mystery, then definitely pick up Static. It has a great plot, a very fun writing style, likable characters, and while the ending was meh for me, a pretty decent ending that others may enjoy more than I did.

You May Also Like