Genre: Speculative Fiction.
Publisher: ChiZine Publications.
Source: Purchased at the 2012 World Horror Convention.
Favorite character: Westlake.
Favorite quote: Too many to list.
Meet Westlake Soul, a twenty-three-year-old former surfing champion. A loving son and brother. But if you think he’s just a regular dude, think again; Westlake is in a permanent vegetative state. He can’t move, has no response to stimuli, and can only communicate with Hub, the faithful family dog. And like all superheroes, Westlake has an archenemy: Dr. Quietus – a nightmarish embodiment of Death itself.
Westlake dreams of a normal life – of surfing and loving again. But time is running out; Dr. Quietus is getting closer, and stronger. Can Westlake use his superbrain to recover…to slip his enemy’s cold embrace, before it’s too late? ~Product Description.
My Thoughts: On the plane to World Horror Convention I sat next to a man reading a surfing magazine. He told me stories about places he’d been and where he was going next. “I always wanted to learn how to surf” I told him. “Well it’s not too late.” he said. I really *have* always wanted to learn to surf. My grandmother lived a few houses from the beach and to this day the waves hitting the shore is one of my favorite sounds and the sea air one of my favorite scents. I find it a bit ironic that I picked up Westlake Soul at WHC, which is about an ex-surfing champ. Youers captured the feeling of being in love with the ocean to perfection. The description of surfing had me riding that board with the spray on my face, the roar of waves in my head and the sun and salt tightening my skin.
Westlake Soul is part supernatural, part spiritual, heartbreaking and uplifting. I have said in past reviews of Youers’s work that he writes like no one else I ever encountered. The way he puts words and phrases together are poetic. “Pink sunshine.” Did you ever think of that? Did you ever think of “Secrets and Sins. Love and pain.” As “So many colors?” Breathtaking. The author brings that to the reader, songs in prose, strung by simple words. But it’s the way they are designed that made me feel like I could physically hold the phrases created in the palm of my hand.
The voice of Westlake is clear and powerful and very relatable. I’m a slow reader, but I finished it in a few days. Despite the difficulty of the subject, it is an easy read. I think because of the relatable, and often humorous voice. Regret and loss are conveyed with bittersweet yet joyous enthusiasm.
As I read this I was a bit dubious about Westlake’s claim to be a superhero. I thought it was more supernatural, but then he explains it in firm and in no uncertain terms and I thought, "Okay, I stand corrected!" There is a lot of contemplation in this work, but again it is expressed in simple and precise terms and does not extrapolate forever. Never once was I bored.
I love how Westlake uses his powers to visit places and experience the beauty in the world, he uses his powers to help people to thank people and he touches everyone that is important to him. Oh yeah and let's not forget his dog, Hub, which was the selling point for me. Their relationship and ability to communicate is funny and touching and made me tear up.
For a “Horror” writer, this is not what I expected but illness and facing your mortality are the most frightening concepts that a person can go through. However, in Westlake Soul there is proof that life can beautiful even in terrible moments.