HOLLOW CITY by Dan Wells

HOLLOW CITY by Dan Wells
Tor July 2012

I can’t remember the last time a book fucked with my head as much as Hollow City. I picked it out on a whim because I liked the synopsis. I had no idea what to expect and no preconceived notions about the author. I went in blind and this is what I saw.

Hollow City is about a man in his early 20s named Michael Shipman. He is a paranoid schizophrenic of a severe nature who has landed in a mental hospital after weeks of living off his meds, homeless and trying to hide from the “faceless men.” The faceless men may or may not be real. Michael was a child raised in a cult of the Manson/Jonestown variety. His back story is bad news. He may know more than he realizes about a serial killer roaming the city with connections to the cult. i felt much empathy for michael but i wasn’t sure how to cheer him on. mental illness is tricky. you need patience and it’s hard not to get annoyed even though you know a person is incapacitated.

This may all seem like a standard pulp genre tale. It’s really much more than that. I found myself constantly wondering, along with Michael, what was real and what wasn’t. Now, this was both what I loved and hated about the story. At times I found Micheal’s perspective too confusing. I also thought the final quarter of the book could have gone deeper and the ending could have been more powerful.

I’m not giving this book a bad call, I just find myself totally indifferent to it.

Dave Wahlman