Friday, 3 February 2017

My Abigail - By David Duane Kummer

David Duane Kummer’s My Abigail is simply outstanding. Kummer’s narrative is very reminiscent of an early Stephen King story, but it’s the author's age that steals the show. His style is breathtaking and far beyond the normal abilities of his age.

My Abigail is a coming-of-age story. It follows young teenager, Caleb Jackson, as he struggles to find his place within the world and within his own mind. As a rule, I generally don’t read Young Adult Fiction, as I find most books in the genre boasting stale characters and tired storylines that have been done to death. My Abigail is of a different breed though. While Caleb doesn’t necessarily have a place within the world, he doesn’t seek a place either. He never complains about his life, and although there’s a strong sense of Tim Burton’s darkness in the world around him, Caleb accepts that he can’t change the world. This is a welcome change for the genre. 

Caleb’s love for his best friend, Abigail, is the driving force beyond the story. It’s a love of undying passion and heart-wrenching sadness. This isn’t a typical teenage crush, however, but rather a bond of bona fide friendship that breathes real. Caleb very clearly loves Abigail; she’s beautiful to him in every way. Kummer narrates their scenes together with a poignant touch, and as their relationship grows, you’ll feel a little flutter yourself and remember your first crush. This isn’t a romance novel, though. Abigail has a deep, dark secret, one that will tear out Caleb’s heart and tug at the reader’s own heart strings

The strongest aspect of this story is the tension. My Kindle was shaking in my hands on more than one occasion. Many of the characters were intimidating, and they touched my nerves in all the right ways. There are no stock characters here—no cardboard characters standing in a stadium. Everyone is real, and that’s exactly what makes them terrifying.

Kummer’s habit of breaking many clichés helps My Abigail to stand on its own. For example, Caleb lives with his aunt and uncle for reasons we’re not explicitly told, except that there was a fire. Most stories would wedge in the age-old trope of the dead parents, but there are hints to suggest that his parents could still be alive, and he is merely staying with other family members for financial reasons. Likewise, Kummer also discard the nerd cliché, with the token nerd with a love for reading is described to be far more presentable and attractive than their typically gangly, ill-dressed counterpart. It was certainly refreshing to a see a young author try a different tact.

The big twist is revealed two-thirds into the story, rather than at the end, and it is this moment that sells this novel. Once this revelation is divulged to Caleb and the reader, the story kicks into overdrive and continues to a dramatic and heart-throbbing conclusion. There’s a lot of emotion that leaps out from the page, and the first-person reflections and limited information only exacerbated the raw moments.

If you have a free evening and you’re in the mood for a thriller, this is a mandatory read. Once you start, you’ll devour it in one sitting. You’ll be terrified. Your stomach will churn. You’ll fall in love and have your heart ripped out. Kummer does it all. This is one of the few Young Adult Fictions I’m very proud to recommend. You won’t regret it.

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