I’ve never done drugs. Not even a single bit of youthful experimentation. They have always seemed so squalid, seedy, and scary to me, and not at all appealing. But I have known several addicts – close friends and family members – so I have a little first-hand experience dealing with the kind of people depicted in RECOVERY. Of course I have no idea what Adam Aresty’s experiences with drugs, addiction, and addicts are, but I have to say that he does an impressive job of depicting them in horrifying and effective fashion.
Mild plot spoilers follow.
Because RECOVERY is so short, I hesitate to say too much about it. On the surface, this is the story of a man who has lost everything because of drugs: his wife, his son, a job, the chance at a normal life, etc. At the outset of the novella, he is on his way to a rehab center, though it’s clear that he doesn’t have a strong desire to give up drugs permanently, since he visits his dealer to make a purchase just before being picked up for the trip to the rehab clinic. That certainly doesn’t bode well for his recovery. And that visit to his dealer sets the stage for all the rest that happens, since the pills he receives aren’t ordinary drugs…they are much more than that. But to say much more would ruin the tale. In many ways this is an apocalyptic story on a small scale, set in an isolated location, but it is also a character study of addicts wrestling with their inner demons while battling the horrors that are made manifest in the clinic and, eventually, within their own bodies.
RECOVERY has a great premise, and while Aresty tells the tale well, I’d actually have liked to see a slightly more fleshed out version of RECOVERY to explore all the issues at work here. It’s short and gets wrapped up quickly, and while I certainly wanted more, I liked it a lot. Aresty could do much more with RECOVERY’s concept though, so I hope he might enlarge on the story we see here. I recommend RECOVERY as a short, quick read, and because of the strength of Aresty’s writing. This is a great example of taut, effective wordsmithing, and I look forward to reading more from him. I’ve read comparisons between RECOVERY and the films The Shining, The Thing, or Jacob’s Ladder; that’s high praise indeed, but I can certainly see the elements that RECOVERY shares with each of those classic films. This was the first publication by the new Kraken Books. Based on the strength of RECOVERY (and the coolness of their logo – seriously, check it out here), I expect great things from Kraken.
Review copyright © 2013 J. Andrew Byers