Todd Keisling’s A Life Transparent explores the universal desire to make a mark and leave something tangible behind, but lead Donovan Candle is about to find out what happens when one does not live up to one’s potential.
In A Life Transparent, we find Donovan working in the call center of an identity protection service. What started out as a temporary job after college as a way to make ends meet while working to get his writing career on track, turns into a daily grind that saps the lead’s creativity and soon, starts to threaten his very existence.
“A person living a life transparent stands upon a threshold of decision: to vanish into obscurity, continuing on their self-destructive journey into a monochromatic version of the world devoid of life and warmth, ignored by those around them.”
Donovan discovers just how important one’s choices are when his indecision causes him to start “flickering” from existence, with no one taking much notice nor seeming to care.
His very world, himself included, begins to flicker between a grey, colorless realm and this one, where the mysterious Aleister Dullington sets the wheels in motion as a test to see whether Candle will choose to make his life more interesting or simply resign himself to “the grey”.
For Donovan, however, the sinking into the daily grind is about more than simply ignoring one’s dream – it’s about the the push and pull between what we feel we are supposed to do and what we are perhaps meant to do, and how, by simply going along with the grind can effect not only you but those around you, which is made clear when Donovan’s wife goes missing.
A true example of speculative fiction, Keisling deftly mixes the supernatural with the everyday, throwing in action, suspense and even a level of mystery which he teams up with his estranged brother to solve the strange phenomena and face down Dullington, the big bad in this tension-filled tale.
With great descriptions of Donovan’s inner turmoil, both out of fear for what is happening to him as well as his wife, and his discovery of the Monochrome, the “world behind the world”, A Life Transparent is especially strong when Donovan finally steps up and faces down his nemesis.
There are also minions, evil minions, and creepy evil minions at that, namely the Yawning, “scrawny albino things”, whose knuckles scrape the ground and who communicate through “loud, forlorn moans” and “low-pitched howls”, not to mention the Lilliputlian Cretins, tiny white creatures with rubbery flesh that speak with droning language and are visible only to those who have begin to “flicker”. ~Shudders~
Keisling showcases his talent by describing the affliction of those not living their life in full color — the turmoil between our dreams and society’s expectations; the desperation to live and not simply exist; the desire to not squander one’s life and to reach one’s full potential — universal themes that make this book something every reader can relate to, while still managing to remain fresh and entertaining.
A great read that I thoroughly enjoyed, and sets the stage for the follow-up book, The Liminal Man, which I hear the author is hard at work editing.
If you, too, want to take a trip into this dark, multi-layered work, don’t forget there are just a few hours left to enter for 1 of 3 signed copies of A Life Transparent. Head over to our contest page before time runs out!