Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Unexamined Life

by Gareth Young
Oct 16-Nov 14, 2011

Recently, I learned about a pretty cool concept called Book Rooster. It's essentially an online community of passionate readers who receive free kindle editions of books by indie authors and write reviews. It's a great way for these sometimes struggling authors to get more reviews posted on All you have to do is sign up and indicate which genres of books you are interesting in, and Book Rooster will start sending you titles. If you aren't interested in a particular book, all you have to do is wait for the next one to come along. Reading and reviewing with no pressure! My kind of site for sure. A more simplified version of the follow review is posted on Amazon, thanks to the free digital copy I received from the Rooster. Check it out.

I must say that upon reading the brief synopsis on An Unexamined Life, my interest was piqued. Definitely not the kind of subject matter I read on a daily basis. So I downloaded my free sample and headed off to Jamaica where I was sure I was going to read at least two, if not three, books. Little did I realize that a cocktail in one hand, seated at the swim-up bar, does not bode well for a kindle. Reading just had to wait until I was home again.

Never before has a book sparked such raw emotion and anger in me. Some might say this is a sign of a truly brilliant author, and while that may be true, I certainly can't say that I'd ever again want to read another of Young's books (this is the author's second novel). Joe Kay is a man who is living the textbook life. On paper, he has everything; a high-paying job, a devoted wife, and most recently, a large inheritance from a dead aunt. When his career takes a nose dive, Joe finds he has more time to spend with his wife. Only now does he realize that years of career-first neglect has driven a large gap between the couple. Joe resorts to online "dating," spending late nights chatting with strange women and having cyber affairs. For whatever reason, Joe becomes braver and begins bringing these affairs to the light of day. He even begins a fantasy-driven affair with his next-door neighbor. At this point, I'm keeping up and fairly intrigued as to where the next pages will take me, but then the protagonist's flaws come screaming to life.

Joe frequents a coffee shop more than ever now that he has Liz, a high school student, to ogle. He quickly becomes infatuated from afar as he eavesdrops on her every word. He finally works up the nerve to speak to her and he is instantly a teenager again. The affair that ensues paints the picture of a weak, selfish, perverted pig. I found myself actually wanting to throw my kindle at a wall I was becoming so frustrated with Joe's weaknesses.

"Moral weakness wasn't indicative of a lack of love for my Eliza, unimaginably cherished, the light of my life. Surely she could see that as a man of means and charm, it was inevitable I would be exposed to irresistible temptation?"

Puke. Some would ask me why I didn't just put the book down for good, but at 263 short pages, I had to at least be assured that Joe's wife would get some kind of redemption. The final moments of Joe's story had me writhing with disgust and frustration. I finished the book wondering if perhaps An Unexamined Life is more suitable to a male reader? As a woman, I refuse to make a single excuse for Joe's adulterous behavior. As an avid reader, I can compliment the author on his prose, but with the hatred I feel for Joe Kay, I have read my first and last Gareth Young book.

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