Harrison Squared – Daryl Gregory

About the Book

From award winning author Daryl Gregory comes a thrilling and colorful Lovecraftian adventure of a teenage boy searching for his mother, and the macabre creatures he encounters.

Harrison Harrison—H2 to his mom—is a lonely teenager who’s been terrified of the water ever since he was a toddler in California, when a huge sea creature capsized their boat, and his father vanished. One of the “sensitives” who are attuned to the supernatural world, Harrison and his mother have just moved to the worst possible place for a boy like him: Dunnsmouth, a Lovecraftian town perched on rocks above the Atlantic, where strange things go on by night, monsters lurk under the waves, and creepy teachers run the local high school.

On Harrison’s first day at school, his mother, a marine biologist, disappears at sea. Harrison must attempt to solve the mystery of her accident, which puts him in conflict with a strange church, a knife­wielding killer, and the Deep Ones, fish­-human hybrids that live in the bay. It will take all his resources—and an unusual host of allies—to defeat the danger and find his mother.

320 pages (hardcover)
Published on March 24, 2015
Published by Tor
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent for me to review by the publisher

I’m a big fan of Daryl Gregory. He had me at Afterparty, and since then, each book has blown my mind. Later last year I read We Are All Completely Fine, an absolutely fantastic novella. While it isn’t necessary to read the novella before you read this book, it might help you feel the punch and impact a bit stronger if you do.

Harrison Squared as a book I almost didn’t want to read. As soon as I see the ‘sixteen-year-old protagonist in high school’ line, I kind of turn off. However, it’s Daryl Gregory, and if anyone can do anything interesting with your typical high schooler, he can.

Harrison Harrison, dubbed Harrison Squared by his scientist mother, is actually a fantastic character. He’s a young man that teens and adults can really love. Harrison moves across the country with his mother who is doing research on giant squid. On the surface he’s your typical discontented teenager. He’s sick of moving, and trying to fit into his new town and new school and that sucks. Under that, he’s actually rather adult. He works through situations in a very logical and reasonable way. He never really loses his head, or flies into hormone induced rages and he sort of floats through situations in a way that makes it easy for readers to float along with him.

The atmosphere of Dunnsmouth is absolutely fantastic. It’s dark and weird, unforgettably quirky, and heavy. Nothing really is what it seems. While it looks, on the surface, like the type of place that you’d enjoy taking a nice seaside vacation, it doesn’t take long to realize that the place is absolutely abuzz with the abnormal, and Harrison finds himself in the middle of all of it.

The secondary characters in the book shine just as brightly as Harrison. It’s obvious that they were crafted with love. Lydia, the awkward school student takes time to warm up to but it’s worth it. Harrison’s Aunt Selena was hilarious, and served to brighten the book up quite a bit in places where it otherwise would have been a bit oppressive. Aunt Sel keeps Harrison nicely rooted in the “normal” world, and Lydia does a great job with really immersing and introducing Harrison to the awkward and heavy world of Dunnsmouth.

The otherworldly characters are unique, completely different than anything I’ve run across before, and that was half of the allure. In fact, I can say that about the entire book. It’s like nothing I’ve read before. Gregory really cashes in on that unique quality, but he never really goes overboard with it. He manages to strike a great balance between urban fantasy, young adult, adult, and Lovecraftian horror. While it might seem like too many elements to mesh together, trust me, it’s not.

The mystery is, if anything, just as good as the world building and characters. It unravels slowly, and there is a point where the end becomes kind of obvious, but the journey to get there is wonderful. Harrison learns about himself, and about his place in this unique world. Gregory does a great job at making everything fit together, all of his intricate developments coupled with the mystery will serve to make readers really feel invested in what happens, and just how everything will happen. It’s quite a dance that Gregory has struck.

In all, Harrison Squared was a book I honestly couldn’t get enough of. I absolutely blasted through it because I couldn’t put it down. It’s deliciously weird, and incredibly different. Harrison Squared is one of those unforgettable books that I never thought I’d like but ended up loving. I really hope that Gregory writes more books like this, and I hope he does it soon.

 

5/5 stars

One Responses

  • I’m also hoping for more books in the series. Gregory has this knack for making me love everything he’s written, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s working on next.

    Reply

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