In his new fiction novel for younger readers, I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages, author Alex Marestaing, combines elements of gothic drama, the supernatural and mystery. The author goes deeply into the mind of a troubled teenaged boy and the toxic, enabling environment of his dysfunctional family. A family tragedy and unresolved grief has impacted the remaining members of the Reed family, keeping each imprisoned and stunted in grief. Most of all, Caleb has disassociated himself from life, withdrawing into his own demented, isolated world as a shut-in, never leaving the smothering confines of his home. It is clear that Marestaino has a keen insight into the psychology of grief and dysfunction, enabling him to create well developed three dimensional characters. As a reader, I found myself distressed by the enabling atmosphere that allowed Caleb's isolation and psychosis to thrive.
The mysterious handwritten notes, the sublime messages and surreal atmosphere was so engaging that I could not put the book down. Elements of gothic horror- hints of mysterious, ghostly apparitions, and a dilapidated, neglected house added an eerie element. The author's keen insight into the mind of an 1800s novelist made the unusual story seem plausible in an unearthly way. One main distraction was Caleb's repetitious, paranoid and obsessive thoughts which seemed to get in the way of the mysterious flow of the story. Nevertheless, Caleb's repetitive thought processes and exaggerated fears, were the product of his mental condition. Nevertheless Caleb himself retained the ability to recognize his shortcomings.
In this story, an unlikely pair of teenagers each with different motives, join forces, unknowingly, to discover the unbelievable truth behind the mysterious notes. There is closure for Caleb's pain, and the beginning of a healing process. For once their is a piece of young adult fiction, intelligently written that does not focus on romance. This story is complete and engaging without the typical young adult romance plot. I would recommend this book for any young adult reader who is tired of the usual teenaged novel, and wishes to read a story with substance. Even adults will enjoy this book as it is written well enough, with sufficient detail to engage even more advanced readers. As a blogger, I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.