Other Reviewers: Goodreads
Perhaps my moods have been darker of late, but my choice of novels to review seem to have become darker in nature. Out of the Blackness, by Carter Quinn, while it does end on a positive note, fall under that category.
This is the first time that I have read anything by Carter Quinn, but the buzz around Goodreads had been so positive about this novel that I gave it a chance. And boy am I glad that I did!
Avery has a history of personal abuse, one that has left him in a constant state of fear and anxiety. The only person in his life that he trusts is Sam, his brother who tries to help Avery heal. In the mix comes, Noah, the large, muscular someone who Avery fears yet finds attractive. Can Avery heal enough to be strong enough to take this chance at love?
We see this story through the eyes of Avery. So that means all actions and motivations of the other characters are shaded by Avery’s perspective. In this case, it built tension, because most of the conflicts within this novel are internal and relationship based. However, as we see in the quote below, we can not fully trust Avery’s vision:
I’m not fated to be some character in a gay romance novel-like love story. As much as that hurts– because wouldn’t that really be nice?– I know I’m much more like the Beagle dogs laboratories keep in kennels for testing purposes. My purpose is much more to be used and abused for someone else’s enjoyment than my own.”
And with that quote, we get to the heart of the book and the heart of the problem. Avery doesn’t believe in his self-worth or that he is good enough for Noah, or really any happiness. When I spoke of a darkness of tone, Avery’s state of mind, thoughts of suicide, drug abuse, and panic attacks are just a few topics. But what we have to understand is that this novel takes these grim plot points and turns them into rays of hope.
Our first introduction to Noah is a vision of manliness and vigor:
He is so…huge. His presence, his personality, his physical body are all out of proportion to me. I’m the small guy who fades into the background, the one who hopes no one notices him. Noah is the big, beautiful man who draws everyone’s eyes like an irresistible magnet. He doesn’t mind being the center of attention. In fact, I suspect he rather likes it. He handles the spotlight and people well, even me. He’s insanely charming, ridiculously good looking and undeniably sexy. In short, he’s way out of my league, even if I wanted to play, which I don’t.
So while we see Noah from Avery’s eyes, he is so much more. Noah sees Avery’s true self, under all of that fear and social anxiety, and he is willing to wait patiently until Avery is strong enough to accept the relationship and the chance of a future.
This is my favorite part of the book review. If I can find a theme within a book I review here, I always feel like I have accomplished something. Not every book I review here has one. In Out of the Blackness, that theme came instantly to my mind when I saw it.
Noah nods. “We all have issues, Aves. maybe not as big as yours, but they’re there. The important thing is that we work on them, chisel at them until we realize they’re not the insurmountable mountains they appear to be, but just a pile of rocks we can move around and get over.”
This is a universal theme: we all have problems, but we shouldn’t let our fear of our problems hold us back. We must face our fears and try to get better to overcome our problems. This could be as “small” as poor self-esteem or as large as what we see here in Avery’s life. The resolution of this theme is something that makes me smile and gives me hope that my problems are not impossible.
The first strength within this novel is Quinn’s knowledge of the psychology of abuse and certain disorders. We see this in his descriptions of Avery’s thought processes, his panic attacks, and his dialogues with his therapist. From other authors I have seen these things written as half-assed over-the-top versions. But within Out of the Blackness, we get the drama, but not the over-drama. I felt his pain, I could understand what he felt and how he felt, because to some degree, I have been where he was. It is a powerful writer who can make us feel these things, who makes us believe in the characters and their motivations.
The second strong point is of the supporting characters. This book is packed with scenes between Avery and his brother, his therapist, and his coworkers. We come to know quite a bit about them and we learn to appreciate their involvement in Avery’s life.
What could be better?
I would have changed very little within this book. However, I do want to warn those who look for action-packed scenes. There really is no “bad guy” who chases them, but rather these are internal conflicts. So, if you want gun fights and dramatic saves, this might not be not novel for you.
I was in the mood for some thought-provoking reading when I found this novel. From the beginning of Out of the Blackness, I found a well written, emotionally complex read that kept me interested and engaged until the end. I reserve 5-star rating for those books that I can emotionally connect to and whose characters remain with me long after I have closed the book. I got exactly what I wanted from Out of the Blackness: a good read.