14: A Novel
By: Peter Clines

Quick-take: This is an easy-going sci-fi novel that I found enjoyable.

Dan's Review

Nate is working a dead-end data entry job near HollyWood trying to make end's meet. He has no money, no friends --essentially nothing really going for him. To save a few bucks he moves in to an odd but shockingly cheap apartment. The rental is even more odd once he starts living day-to-day. Nothing about the building makes sense.

Shortly after he moves in, we are eventually introduced to the full cast of neighbors: Veek, Roger, Tim, Xela, and the others. With the "Scooby Gang" complete, they all start investigating around the prying eyes of Oscar, the apartment manager. We start with odd mutant glowing cockroaches. We find each apartment room is strikingly different. It all culminates in to craziness that I will intentionally not describe here. The slow build-up from the mundane to the epic is part of what made the book interesting.

This book reminded me a bit of Crossing the Asymptote. However, instead of one of the characters going off the deep end just go to further, it is the building itself that is the star of the show.

There are portions that do drag, which is unfortunate because this book is not that thick. There are also a few conveniences that I cannot overlook, the biggest being: Everybody in the apartment is very skilled.

We have a computer whiz, a handyman that is skilled in everything, a former business owner, a studio grip, and others. And... they are all supposedly near the poverty line, which is why they are in the cheap rental overlooking all these oddities? The group all just happens to have the right mix of expertise to move through each plot puzzle. And they all behave in a very professional and respectful manner with each other. Also, they were all strangers and became friends quickly. It felt like the first week of moving in to the dorms except many have been there for months. At least the book had them leaving the scene to go their jobs regularly.

To be fair, the book did say each tenant underwent an extensive approval screening before being offered a place. A landlord charging that low in LA is allowed to be as picky as they want.

This book gets a solid 4.

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