Starving Review: Nine Lives of Adam Blake by Ryan Gladney


Nine Lives of Adam Blake by Ryan Gladney (Amazon, Goodreads)

It doesn’t matter if you are a literary foodie sampling a wide variety of gourmet morsels from around the literary world or a mad scrabbling Starving Reviewer simply trying to get enough to eat.  The fact remains that if you don’t take a moment to cleanse your palate between dishes, you can turn it into one big mush.  After my recent spate of undercooked, overspiced dishes, I was about ready turn a blind eye to the next book on my plate.  Thank the literary Gods that I took that long drink of water, swished, and spat or else I would have, well, let’s save that for the actual review, shall we?

Speaking of that, let us recite the sacred Starving Review creed:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.

Nine Lives is a sublimely tasty treat.  There, it’s said, it’s out of the way.  Yes, it’s not like me, one who saves that crucial final verdict for last in an effort to sustain some culinary drama, but I find there’s no need for me to do such when a literary dish is just so honestly good-tasting.  However, we won’t leave it at that because to do so would be a disservice to Mr. Gladney’s work in the kitchen.  What makes Nine Lives so delightful on the tongue then?

Let’s be frank: a book like this that delves so directly into metaphysics and the like can very easily turn sour.  It’s only a small step from the delicate flavors of pontification and exploration into the rank notes of arrogance and stubbornness.  Add to that the dramatic difficulties that can be faced by approaching subjects such as life, death, and reincarnation and still holding a cohesive and driving plot steady and you can see why it is so easy to mess up the recipe.  Nine Lives dances through these rough culinary waters with ease.

The narrative remains rock solid throughout the entire book and that narrative and plot keeps you invested, nibbling through bite after bite, never hitting a clump of philosophy or an underdone mess of metaphysics.  It’s a smooth blend the whole way.  It’s well paced, well written, and keeps a strong and consistent voice throughout.  The characters themselves, something that can be left on the back burner in tales of this sort, are prominent and well-realized, providing an important focal point for the plot itself.

As for the metaphysical parts, Mr. Gladney’s thoughts and insights were nuanced and well-presented.  It never felt ham-fisted or shoved down the throat.  To add a certain extra note of joy to this particular eater, Gladney approaches the main philosophical wrinkle of the piece from many sides without declaring any one side the ‘correct’ or ‘winning’ side instead illustrating what each mindset has to offer and the problems each can present, showing a certain open-mindedness without going so far as to be a doormat to conflicting ideas.

So, in closing, this Starving Reviewer can only say that Nine Lives of Adam Blake is an insightful, well-written book, weaving a nearly perfect blend of philosophy, metaphysics, drama, and romance to produce a delightful meal.  I would happily recommend you give this one a try and I look forward to Mr. Gladney’s next book.

FINAL VERDICT: ***** (A metaphysical medley of tastes that never loses sight of what makes books good: story and character!)


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