The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzales
The Regional Office is a shadowy organization that fights encroaching supernatural dangers, employing all seeing Oracles as well as a squad of superpowered Operatives (all female). The novel recounts a disastrous day that the RO was attacked, the intrigue, betrayals, and violence of that assault. It also recounts the life of several key people, including Sarah who as a very deadly mechanical arm.
Unfortunately, I don’t actually know what happened that day. And I really think that Gonzales didn’t actually tell us what happened. In 400 some pages, he manages to hop from here to there, forward and backward, through several points of view. But we end up pretty much nowhere, understanding nothing.
I think he was striving to create tension and mystery, but mostly he confused me. And maybe he was making a point about the uncertainty of knowledge, or how each life might unfold many different ways, or maybe how we don’t really understand our own thoughts. But the way he does this is by repeatedly contradicting himself. Repeatedly.
To the point that I have no clue what he is really telling me.
“He had felt good about all of that, or not good.
“Good wasn’t what he had felt.
“Or not even proud.
“As I he had accomplished a thing he needed to even if it was a thing he didn’t relish or really want to do. That was how he’d felt. How he’d been feeling the past few days. The past few years” (p. 395)
Once or twice, that could be interesting. Throughout the whole novel, this stuff is just maddening, baffling, and ultimately infuriating.
If you subtract all of this junk, it is a pretty simple story, with some not terribly attractive people, a lot of simpleminded violence, and no sensible reason for any of it.
- Manuel Gonzales, The Regional Office is Under Attack, New York, Riverhead Books, 2016.
Sunday Book Reviews