Thursday, March 1, 2018

Book Review: 'I am Titanium' by John Patrick Kennedy

John Patrick Kennedy continues his career as a writer with another deliciously controversial book. Brooklyn born of Irish ancestry, now dividing his time between New York City and London, he seems to have inherited the Irish genes for wild tales and has the courage to make his own stories challenging to the conservative readers with such a flair for showmanship that the result of his courageous wanderings through myth, religion, and those oh-so-sacred stories that form our concept of a universe that makes sense (read `creationism') in such a way that within the scope of a prologue and first chapter he has everyone testing his talents assured that here is a new writer of style that is uniquely his own. This movie star good-looking young man is an adventurer (it doesn't take long to figure that out from his writing), having climbed Denali, hiked the Amazon, and even spent a year living in Japan with hardly enough belongings to fit in a backpack. John still loves Asian culture and practices both Jeet Kune Do and Taoism. He has said on his blogs: `I enjoy art (painting and illustrations are my favs), reading other authors, cooking, ballroom dancing, writing (obviously), tennis [a former Wimbledon champion!], fitness, and almost anything that doesn't involve politics. I've gotten about 300 messages about who I am. I'm just the guy who wrote awesomely sick book w/evil angels. Read it if you like angels :).' And that was in reference to the initial series - THE DESCENDED BOOKS 1 & 2. And now he begins a new series - THE PAX BLACK and an entirely different world opens.

John somehow knows and understands autoimmune diseases, as he is able to create a main character Pax who suffers from scleroderma and the limitations that places on its victims and still find a way to let that lift off his story. He opens his chapter 1 with a telling mood: `Pax blinked and the world changed. The delicate scents from the forest were gone, replaced by the stink of hospital cleaner. The thick mossy maples and cypress trees, dappled by the sunlight of the forest, were transformed into the harsh glare of fluorescent lights. His breath, so easy a moment before, labored against his ribcage. He sneezed, and the tubes of the O2 machine scraped against the mucous membranes in his nose. He was back at Columbia University Medical Center, dying from acute diffuse scleroderma while his mom studied the progress of his disease. His immune system was bravely fighting a nonexistent infection, triggering his cells to turn to plaster collagen and calcium all over his internal organs like overeager wallpaper hangers. Oh joy. Back to the world of bedrails and call buttons and sheets and rough new hospital gowns that felt like they were grating his skin like cheese. Back to the world of not being able to sit up by himself, of having to call for help to take a piss. Back to the world of coughing up blood.' THAT is understanding a disease state!

But on to the fascinating plot: ` Pax is a teen-age genius who learned to contact the astral plane and communicate with a being who lives there. He's also dying. So when Pax's astral mentor offers him a chance at life and power greater than any human has ever possessed, in exchange for helping the astrals inspect Earth, Pax jumps at the chance. What happens next sets off a series of events that change Pax and his friend Scarlett forever... Partly because the astral beings have their own agendas, and for some of them, mankind's survival means very little. And they're not even the biggest threat...'

I AM TITANIUM is only John's third and already he is proving himself a master craftsman who creates extraordinary characters whose very forms let alone life patterns take on surprising elements that challenge us with his pregnant imagination with every chapter. This is spectacular writing in a realm few enter successfully. And being labeled Book 1 we know there is more coming soon. Grady Harp, June 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.