Review: State of Mind by Libby Drew
I’m not sure you could put more anticipation into a book than I had for ‘s State of Mind. First, it was the novel she submitted to Dreamspinner after I (and others, though our efforts were independent) suggested she do so. I was already a fan of her blog posts and ficlets, but between submission of SOM and publication, I also got to read her short story she submitted to the Midsummer Madness Daily Dose (also from Dreamspinner), which only made me all the more eager for her novel. Then one day about a month ago Dan comes up to me beaming and said, “I just got Libby’s book to proof.” (Dan is a galley proofer for Dreamspinner.) And the whole time he read it, all he did was talk about how good it was and how all he wanted to do was go read it. So I decided then and there I was going to order the paperback version, because sometimes you gotta. THEN I waited for freaking ten days while it meandered its way from Texas to Iowa. Then I had to wait another five for my schedule to let me sit down with it.
Totally. Worth. It.
Sometimes there are books you wish you could write but you know you can’t. Like maybe you watched Jason Bourne and wished you could go slash him, but you know you’re shit for action adventure, so you don’t. Well, Jason Bourne has been slashed and also given extra-sensory powers. It’s like X-men MEETS Jason Bourne but with less costumes. It’s well-plotted, well-paced, and well-developed without being overdone. And don’t read it before bed uniess you can sleep in the next day. Learned that the hard way.
What I love most about Drew’s style is that she has such a light hand and such rigid control. Only a true wordsmith could make such control and deliberation look so casual. And I’m totally green because she was able—in a two hundred page novel—to introduce multiple points of view and make it really, really work. In fact, the story had to have it. That’s the hardest thing to do, and people usually mess it up all to hell, but not Drew. Yes, she can wield five needles at once and still make it look easy and natural.
The characters are fun, and funny, but also beautifully flawed and shadowed—and again, subtly handled. There isn’t a drop of gooey angst; these are real men here. They feel and they emote, but—well, I leave that discussion to Dan. He can’t stand it when guys walk around moping, and as someone who self-identifies as a man in touch with his emotions, he’s one to know when it’s overdone. I agree with him; Drew knows her men, and these are the real deal.
So go out and buy State of Mind. It’s available everywhere, and so long as you don’t read at ten PM when you should be sleeping, you won’t regret a moment of your time. (And even if you read it at ten PM, all you’ll regret is that you have to get up so early in the morning.)