One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other - Travers Scott
I loved the title of this book and the cover, which hinted at dark deeds, but after a very promising start the book just dissolved into confusion. Of course, if youíre setting out to write a book about 5 identical men (4 quadruplet brothers and a father) then itís going to be hard separating them out. Giving them all the same name doesnít help either. I have no idea what the book was actually about or how it ended. I never did get how the quads could be utterly identical but then find one wasnít their brother at all.
It started with some excellent gay themes, too Ė lonely country sheriff taking more than a liking to one of the brothers, but this too fizzled out when all the identity confusion began. Shame.
Not worth bothering with.
This book was a terrible disappointment.† Maybe my expectations were too high (again).† It sold itself on a premise that seemed ripe with possibilities- indeed the beginning appeared to match that promise- what with 4 identical brothers and the troubled relationship with their father who commits suicide when one of them goes to visit him in Oregon.†
Confusingly theyíre ALL called Jake Barnes, which doesnít make it easy to follow the story.† The brothers have nicknames for each other called after the places where they live- it is Holly the gay one who lives (predictably) in West Hollywood who has to deal with the aftermath of Jake Sr.ís death, a carefully planned affair with strict instructions about disposal of the body, etc.†
Jake Sr.ís suicide is the catalyst for a kind of self-destructive collapse of the family left behind, brothers who once upon a time were a whole world to each other.† This is sparked by Jake Sr.ís bombshell after-death revelation that one of the boys is a cuckoo in the nest, i.e. he is not actually a blood relation of the others.† The quadsí birth (conveniently) is shrouded in mystery.† They were always told their mother died in childbirth and Jake Sr. shut himself and his brood off from the world, bringing them up totally self-sufficient survivors.†
Isolated like this family was all they had, so we imagine how devastating it must be to discover itís been a lie for one of them.† Yet each brother has devoted his adult life (theyíre 20-something) desperately trying to assert his individuality, making their appearance as different as possible by changing hair colour/style, growing beards, etc.† So maybe Jakeís news isnít so bad for one of the brothers who now has a mother to look for and a new, unique identity no longer tied to the others.†
By this point I began to get totally lost & confused.† I just donít get how they could look so alike as to have never questioned one of them was different, especially as they share some sort of emotional mind-meld.† Thereís an odd prologue in which one of them appears in a bar and is recognised by a barmaid as looking like Jake Barnes Sr.† Yet he then appears to shapeshift and the glamour or magic or whatever is at work falls away and heís an alien blond stranger.† Is this change because his father is dead and now his motherís influence is foremost?† Is the whole story about the cuckoo true or just a kind of madness induced by an identity crisis?
Another odd aspect is the way although the story appears to be contemporary they travel in horse drawn taxis and zeppelins and use 8 track cassettes with digital cameras.†† It adds to the air of unreality though perhaps this is intentional to make it a kind of black modern fairytale.† Goodness knows.
As the story develops into a dark murder mystery, with POV switches I lost track of who was who which is kind of important to understanding whatís going on as one of the brothers systematically kills the rest.†
I enjoyed the opening part.† I liked Holly and his developing relationship with a bisexual sheriff investigating Jake Sr.ís death in Oregon.† Then we go to another Jake and my interest waned as my confusion grew.†
As for the sheriff well he seems pleased with the changes in HIS Jake who is now nice and macho not West Hollywood and doesnít realise heís not Holly but a disturbed killer.† So much for love and detective skills.†† I never did figure it all out and to be honest I didnít really try too much because I lost interest in the whole thing and skimmed to the end.† You might get more out of it than I did but I canít recommend this novel.