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HARRISON SQUARED by Daryl Gregory (Review & Giveaway)

Title: Harrison Squared
Author(s): Daryl Gregory
Edition: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Source: Rockstar Book Tours 
Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble - Book Depository - Inkwood Books

The Summary

From award winning author Daryl Gregory comes a thrilling and colorful Lovecraftian adventure of a teenage boy searching for his mother, and the macabre creatures he encounters.

Harrison Harrison—H2 to his mom—is a lonely teenager who’s been terrified of the water ever since he was a toddler in California, when a huge sea creature capsized their boat, and his father vanished. One of the “sensitives” who are attuned to the supernatural world, Harrison and his mother have just moved to the worst possible place for a boy like him: Dunnsmouth, a Lovecraftian town perched on rocks above the Atlantic, where strange things go on by night, monsters lurk under the waves, and creepy teachers run the local high school. 

On Harrison’s first day at school, his mother, a marine biologist, disappears at sea. Harrison must attempt to solve the mystery of her accident, which puts him in conflict with a strange church, a knife­wielding killer, and the Deep Ones, fish­-human hybrids that live in the bay. It will take all his resources—and an unusual host of allies—to defeat the danger and find his mother.

My Opinion

This book was unlike anything I have ever read.  I am not a Lovecraft lover; I find his books to be just on the side of too weird for me.  That being said, the summary of Harrison Squared pulled me in and I signed up for the blog tour.  I am so glad I did, because I really loved this book.  Daryl Gregory managed to imbue both humor and terror in equal doses within the pages, creating a town which I never want to visit, but that I didn't want to leave.

Harrison Harrison (or H2 as his Mom calls him), is just your average 17 year old with a prosethtic leg that was a result of a tragic boating accident.  Now the real question is, was this boating accident from a storm or a monstrous creature?  Either way, H2 lost his father to the accident, and it's just been him and his absentminded marine biologist mother ever since.  Now, in the middle of his Junior year, his mother moves across the country in search of giant squids, and H2 must deal with the very strange town of Dunnsmouth in the deal.

H2 is a good, solid protagonist.  I immediately like him for his snark and his heart.  He loves his mother dearly, and works to help her keep their little family together.  But at the same time, he gets angry when her "science-brain" takes over and she forgets things.  Their relationship is a very normal one, and that helps off-set the very weird events that take place in the dismal fishing town of Dunnsmouth, Massachusetts.  From the very beginning the reader is given little clues as to the true nature of the town, with it's high school at the epicenter of the weird.

The type of monster in the story is definitely a homage to Lovecraft, as it has a marine-dwelling kraken/squid type beasty, a cult, and some very shady characters.  But while there is obvious horror in the book, I feel that the story overall was still much more hopeful than anything Lovecraft wrote.  

Without the setting, the book would have such a different feel.  It had to be in a fishing village, and it had to be in some whole in the wall town.  The reader saw everything through a screen of ageing, making you feel as if there characters were straddling both the present day and the 1800s.  But my favorite part of the whole book had to be the characters.  H2, Lydia, Lub, and Aunt Sel are all great, and bring another aspect to the story that was really necessary.  H2 is the "hero" and demonstrates this well.  He stands up to people, he fights for what needs to be done, and he really cares about what happens to everyone else (well at least the good guys).  Lydia is like the commander of the operation, showing wisdom way beyond her years and a knack for getting the job done.  Lub is the comic relief, but is integral to solving the mystery; without him the whole thing would have never come together.  Finally, Aunt Sel is by no means a parent, but she is exactly the type of "authority figure" H2 needs when his mother goes missing; loving without being motherly, she allows him to do what he needs to do.

When I started Harrison Squared, I had no idea that it was a kind of prequel to one of Daryl's previous books We Are All Completely Fine, but I will be sure to read that book and all of Daryl's other books; maybe I will see Lovecraft in a new light after delving deeper into them!  Harrison Squared is fun, frightening, and delivers a punch at the end.  I suggest, even if you're not a "fan" of the horror/supernatural genre, you give this book a chance; it is well worth it!


Play Harrison Squared Dies Early
Harrison Squared Dies Early is a short interactive story that’s a companion to Harrison Squared the novel. Remember choose-your-own-adventure books? It’s like that, but with puzzles.
You play as Harrison as he sneaks into Dunnsmouth Secondary on a not-so-sleepy Saturday to track down a monster running loose. The art is by David Hinnergardt, and text and puzzles are by me.

We are giving away a finished copy of HARRISON SQUARED to 15 WINNERS
Giveaway is open to US ONLY
Giveaway ends on April 3rd

Final Rating

Book Cover: 3/5
Book Title: 4/5
Plot: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Overall: 45/50: A-
About the Author

Daryl Gregory is an award-winning writer of genre-mixing novels, stories, and comics. His most recent work is the novel is Afterparty (Tor, April 2014) and the novella We Are All Completely Fine (Tachyon, August 2014). His first novel, Pandemonium, won the Crawford Award and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His other novels include the Philip K. Dick award finalist The Devil’s Alphabet and Raising Stony Mayhall, which was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal.

Many of his short stories are collected in Unpossible and Other Stories, which was named one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly. His comics work includes the Planet of the Apes series, and Dracula: The Company of Monsters series (co-written with Kurt Busiek). He lives in State College, PA, where he writes programming code in the morning, prose in the afternoons, and comics at night.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:
3/16/2015- Bibliophilia, PleaseInterview
3/17/2015- NerdophilesReview
3/18/2015- Mythical BooksGuest Post
3/19/2015- Spiced Latte ReadsReview
3/20/2015- The Cover Contessa- Interview

Week Two:
3/23/2015- Eli to the nthReview
3/24/2015- Word to DreamsGuest Post
3/25/2015- Passion ObsessionReview
3/26/2015- Bookhounds yaInterview
3/27/2015- Such a Novel IdeaReview

Week Three:
3/30/2015- Working for the MandroidGuest Post3/31/2015- Curling Up With A Good BookReview

1 comment:

  1. Harrison Squared is an enchanting fantasy and very unique. The characters are vivid and engaging. And the dark subject matter is paired with clever humor. And an air of mystery and adventure that keeps the story moving at a great pace. I highly recommend this fantastic novel. It’s eerie, funny, and captivating – and a story that I didn’t want to end.

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