Review: DMZ

DMZ by Andrea Speed
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I chose DMZ without reading the blurb because of the author. I like Andrea Speed’s work and liked the cover so those sold me. I’m not sure if reading the blurb would have helped with this particular short story though. It’s not bad but it’s nothing special and not that interesting. It feels like a deleted scene from a novel rather than a complete short story on its own. The writing is clean and evocative but my attention wandered for such a quick story.

Part of the problem is that while a lot technically occurs in the story, I felt very disconnected from the action and characters. Thus I was left feeling like “nothing happened” when that’s not true. The story starts with Carlos hanging upside down and bleeding from a helicopter shot out of the sky in a hostile country. Ky, who happens to be an old university crush of Carlos’, saves him. After a night in an abandoned building the two are successfully rescued. It’s a decent premise but perhaps too ambitious for such a small length.

For starters it was hard to understand what was going on. Starting the story in the middle of the action I had no idea who anyone was or what the point of the story was. Perhaps reading the blurb beforehand would have helped but it took me several pages to get into the rhythm of the story. Unfortunately I never connected to Ky or Carlos at all. The third person narrator here created a distance between the story and reader that was never overcome. We were told many times that Carlos had a crush on Ky in university, that they were friends of friends, but not close. I was a little annoyed at the repetition of information when that space could have been used to give the characters more depth and interest. As it was they remained very remote, thin characters that I didn’t really care about. I sensed no chemistry between the men either. That might be due to the lack of sex, but considering Carlos was badly injured, a sex scene would have been ridiculous.

That said I’m not entirely sure what the point of the story was. It feels unfinished with neither a beginning nor an end. Perhaps this is part of a larger series? I quite like the author’s voice but this is not one I’d recommend. Overall I’m disappointed in this short and have already forgotten it, which is sad.

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