Posted by: Matt Y | 05/28/2015

Review: Totaled

I want to talk about one I liked, so here’s Totaled by Kary English.

Totaled is a story about a woman in a jar.

Early Immersion – Captured me right away with the sentence I think I’m dead. Great hook.

Immersion is maintained – Yep. If you’re the sensitive sort you might trip over the lines about healthcare and what it means to be totaled (reminded me of The Repossession Mambo in a good way) and the jab at the ‘Treaders’ but it’s a brief line used to justify context. Otherwise the story stays consistent throughout.

There is a plot – It’s there though that’s probably the easiest criticism of the story, the conflict of the protagonist is attempting to finish her work before she can no longer do so though a secondary conflict is the gradual adjustment and acceptance to the idea of letting go of a life that’s already gone. The story builds on both in a classy way however the lack of being able to do too much to effect the former and the inevitability of the latter make the classic build up-climax have less tension. Given the type of story this is though I do not see that as a negative and not all stories have to fit one mold.

There are characters – There are and while the antagonist (if any) is the default evil corporate guy the main character and her work partner are both written with clear motives and given agency, and since one doesn’t have a body, that’s pretty cool.

There is foreshadowing and it doesn’t suck – This is difficult to say in the context of this story. The work being done and the chance of success/failure isn’t foreshadowed though you hope for it. That the character is facing the loss of her life is obvious from the first page. It doesn’t suck but it’s not traditional foreshadowing.

There are no gaping plot holes – None that I saw.

Pacing is appropriate – When the book isn’t developing the story of the work she is trying to accomplish with her time left, it’s building who she was/is and establishing the existence she currently has. It’s well done.

The piece has an emotional payoff – Even though the end is a bit predictable and inevitable it’s built well enough that it still packs an emotional punch to it.

I really enjoyed this story, and of all the things Sad Puppies claimed to want to do was provide exposure to authors and in this case it worked. While I’m glad to have read the story and have English on my radar, I don’t think sabotaging the rest of the awards was worth it. Totaled to me however is the first of the slated stories that I liked and felt entirely like it belonged on the ballot.

Paulk Metric of Judgement: Worthy.
(disclaimer – just to be clear, I’m using the metrics she listed in the way I believe they were described however my interpretation could be completely wrong)

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