Overview (No Spoilers): While mystery is not a genre that I typically pick up, the fast paced, edge of your seat drama in Neon Fever Dream will keep any reader’s rapt attention. Better yet, the setting for the majority of this novel takes place in the Burning Man, of which I was blown away with the comprehension that I actually didn’t have a clue what that event actually entails. I had a general vague understanding that Burning Man was a music festival, lets say similar to Lollapalooza, but alas how very wrong I was. This is my second novel by Peper, having first read Cumulus back in December, and Neon Fever Dream continues in the same quick, fact paced read format, however this novel’s world building and character depth rapidly out pace its predecessor. Peper’s writing style could almost be described as a minimalist due to the intriguing, literary world he has created in the desert based on relatively few words, however this could an exaggeration based on the highly detailed, yet wordy novels I’ve recently been reading. Overall, despite being fairly predictable, the action culminates in a flurry of events in which the lines of foes and friends are blurred, leaving the reading in a state of suspense throughout.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- I was shocked to learn about everything that Burning Man entails, which truly sounds like a city emerging in the desert for a little over a week a year. Peper does a wonderful job describing this event, allowing readers who have never experienced it to capture a glimpse of the wonder that is Burning Man.
- I have to say I absolutely loved Asha, who was a strong, intelligent, bad ass female. I loved that she was an independent thinker that chose to confront instead of hide secrets from the people around her. It was refreshing from a literary standpoint, where most characters would have chosen to keep the FBI involvement from Lynn instead of admitting what she knew.
- So much detail was spent on krav maga, which acted almost as a conscience and guiding force for Asha. I wonder if Peper actually practices or if he had to do a lot of research to grasp the finer concepts?
- While it was rather predictable, I loved the tie in with Lynn’s past betraying the Tongan gangsters with the Sub Rosa at Burning Man.
- The final fight scene didn’t really have a good guy vs bad guy vibe. As a reader, I couldn’t decide which team I wanted Asha to side with. On one team you had her old mentor, Dov Cohn who had made a surprise entrance back into her life thanks to Lynn who was purely using Asha to get a story like she had previously used Kelemete Koloi and the young woman from the emerald mines, with complete disregard to the havoc she had wrecked on their lives in the aftermath. But alas, Dov was the head person behind Sub Rosa, as such was responsible for countless horrible acts taking place. Personally, I was kind of rooting for her to side with Dov because Lynn was a user and probably, long term would not change. As my mother always says, you can’t change a person, regardless of how much you love them. With that being said, I think my only source of annoyance in Neon Fever Dream was the Asha and Lynn storyline. I have no qualm with their romance or chemistry however it seemed a bit rushed that their relationship moved into the ‘Love’ realm as quickly as it did. It seems out of character for both women, as Asha is level headed and typically analytical in thinking and Lynn more than likely would be hesitant to involve true feelings due to the hurt she has inflicted in the past and claims to feel herself.
- Personally, I loved that Asha was from Sri Lanka. I have had several coworkers over the years from this tiny island country and would love to visit it eventually some day.
- Also, more out of curiosity than anything. Do events like Sub Rosa occur? How do people find out about them?
- Lastly, whenever I read a book I look to connect with a character’s personality and make comparisons to my own. At the very end of A Neon Fever Dream, Asha made a self reflection that really struck a cord with me.
Her entire life, she had never stopped judging herself and finding herself wanting. She might find reprieve in passing pleasure, but that satisfaction was always fleeting. The gap between who she was and who she wanted to be pushed her to achieve but never stopped hounding her soul.
I couldn’t have summed up my feelings and inner struggle regarding satisfaction if I wrote this text myself. I’ve truly been blessed in my life, but have a hard time being happy despite knowing how lucky I am to be in my current situation. As well as often finding myself wanting, I tent to have high expectations for the people around me as a consequence, which can lead to strained relationships. I count myself blessed that I’ve found a significant other (soulmate) that understands and supports my constant sense of needing to be doing or achieving something at all times. In all honestly, this inner struggle is one of the reasons I hesitate to have kids, because I can’t image how terrible it would be to have a mother that is never satisfied. So, bravo to Peper for a creating a character and subsequent inner reflection, which connected with me on a deeper level.
When reading it is common that I encounter words that I’m not privy to the exact definition, however it is easy to infer the meaning of the aforementioned word based on the context of the sentence and story. As such, new to the Critiquing Chemist, you’ll find an additional section that includes vocabulary words that I encountered upon reading the book being reviewed and either had to look up the definition or it is a word in which I would like to add to my repertoire. This endeavor is easier when in the Kindle format, and potentially impossible with audiobooks, however I’m going to attempt to continue this section for all future book reviews. I’ll be using the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Skive: to cut off (as leather or rubber) in thin layers or pieces
Provincial: a person of local or restricted interests or outlook
Reverie: the condition of being lost in thought
Apogee: the point in the orbit of an object (such as a satellite) orbiting the earth that is at the greatest distance from the center of the earth; also : the point farthest from a planet or a satellite (such as the moon) reached by an object orbiting it
Vestibule: a passage, hall, or room between the outer door and the interior of a building
Emulate: to strive to equal or excel; imitate
Cognoscenti: a person who has expert knowledge in a subject; Connoisseur
Geodesic: made of light straight structural elements mostly in tension
Bacchic: of, relating to, or suggestive of Bacchus or the Bacchanalia
Travertine: a mineral consisting of a massive usually layered calcium carbonate (such as aragonite or calcite) formed by deposition from spring waters or especially from hot springs
Disparate: containing or made up of fundamentally different and often incongruous elements
Incongruous: not harmonious; not conforming