Book Review: “Disorderly” by Jayme K.

(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last 12 months to be considered. For the complete list of all books reviewed here, as well as the next books scheduled to be read, click here.)
Disorderly, by Jayme K.
I didn’t quite know what to make of this book as I was reading it…and I still don’t quite know now.
Jayme K. is a good writer, I reviewed his short piece Youth favorably, and the skill is more or less apparent in this work, Disorderly.
Unfortunately his talent is spread too thin over the course of this full length novel, it’s tonally deaf, and somewhat schizophrenic. I recommend it but not without a few reservations.
To start off, his characters are completely lacking in reader accessible empathy, let alone sympathy. It’s one thing to write ‘rough’ characters but it’s completely another thing to make them essentially brick houses, built up with walls of such ingrained anger, frustration and cynicism that it asks a lot of the reader to give a damn about them, let alone want to see evidence of what their lives were like before the story and what’s to come for them afterwards. And the real thing of it is, Jayme K. doesn’t really give much of a reason for the emotional instability of some of these characters. The main character Colton Reznick (love that last name, use it all the time in my short stories) is diagnosed with cancer at the outset, yes, but he doesn’t seem to exhibit much of the emotional symptoms of someone laid low by a death sentence illness. It rings false, like Jayme wanted to throw in the presence of the illness for some easy pathos.
The other characters really just come off as shades. Which, understandably given the first person narrative, keeps the emphasis on the Colton, but unlike a story like, say, Fight Club, or Catcher in the Rye, Colton is a faulty base on which to lay the foundations of a narrative. That being said the other characters add a little without adding too much, which is a negative, but in a roundabout way makes me wish that the story was told from a third person narrative, maybe even omniscient, because the other characters to me had just as much, if not more, to add to the story as Colton. Angel, Oliver, their stories clipped in the narrative and could have added immeasurably. But as it stands they gilded the narrative more or less decently with their inclusion. The ‘revelation’ about Oliver’s character towards the end of the story also, once again, rang false, like, again once again, Jayme was going for extreme lowerst common denominator humor. It’s a gutsy gamble that didn’t pay off.
Now, as to the story itself. I hate this sentence already but…IT HAD SUCH POTENTIAL. If only Jayme had kept this story in the realm of the metaphorical and even the allegorical. It could have been a fantastically twisted Kafkaesque journey, ending abruptly or even terrifyingly. But, as it is, Jayme seems to settle for a grungier and dirtier American Psycho. Not to forget to mention that Colton’s repeated escapes from any sort of moral comeuppance gets irritating after a while. Like a less polished The Talented Mr. Ripley that shows the satirical eye but not quite the grace. Not a bad set of books to emulate but sadly Jayme K. makes the mistake of explaining too much when, I think, the readers would’ve been more than happy with ambiguity, and it would’ve served the story in an incredible way, making it not only a statement about emotional instability but the nature of the absurd drifting around such conventional moral definitions, namely, good and evil.
What we have though is a novel with a frankly quite superb first half (the tension, the moral ambiguity, the setting of atmosphere) and a boring, repetitious, and sagging second half. Oddly enough it reminded me of Crime and Punishment in its attempted yoking together of two vastly different narratives. But whereas Dostoyevsky forged a hybrid from Christian morality tale and Greek tragedy, Jayme K. seems to try to merge blacker than night comedy with despairing psychological thriller, with mixed but fascinating results all things considered.
As it is it’s a solid if rough effort. Jayme K shows promise but some serious rough edges that need smoothing are more prevalent here than in his previous work. I’m holding out hope for his next effort, and I suspect he can rope skip the line between absurd nihilism and genuinely affecting (and at times hilarious) black comedy.
Out of 10: 6.4
Read even more about DIsorderly: Official site | Amazon | GoodReads | Shelfari | Wikipedia