Few diagnoses invoke as much fear and misunderstanding as cancer does. It’s much more difficult to feel awe when facing this disease. Until now.
“Oil and Water” was by far my favourite tale. Tasmin and Maya adopt a baby they name Bob who soon develops the ability to fix certain things with his mind. He can clean a window or take stains out of clothing using mental powers that average humans can’t understand. Telling their tale under the guise of conducting an interview with one of Bob’s mothers matches the tone of the plot quite well, and the ending took me by surprise. Had this been a standalone piece it would have earned a much higher rating. It would be interesting to meet these characters again in a sequel one day.
In “The Gypsy Cure” a young boy visits a gypsy hoping to find a cure for his mother’s illness. Her time is extremely limited and he’s hoping for a miracle. While this tale has an intriguing premise, the ending felt anticlimactic and abrupt given everything the reader learns about the characters in this piece. This pattern repeats itself with several other stories in the collection. With rare exceptions, the premises of these pieces are quite interesting. They simply needed more time to be developed. I had trouble understanding what the authors were trying to say in poems like “A Murder of Crows,” but this also could have been easily fixed if a little more time was spent ironing out certain metaphors.
I couldn’t stop reading “The Dead Rise for Me.” In it a dying, pregnant woman named Regan must decide whether or not to help a ghost she notices while walking to her temporary home. There were a few plot points that were never fully explained, but I was haunted by the choices Regan has made. She remained in my thoughts long after I finished her adventure.
What I liked most about this collection was its diversity. These stories and poems cover a wide range of experiences and emotional reactions to cancer, including what it feels like to love someone whose prognosis is poor. As someone with personal experience with the latter, I was pleasantly surprised by how universal certain thoughts and feelings are when one is in this situation.
I stayed up late to finish Metastasis. I would especially recommend it to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or has a loved one living with this disease.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. 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.