Branches, by Adam Peter Johnson – a Review.
Branches, an alternative universe novel rings frightfully true, a precision hit on a raw nerve.
Still reeling from the loss of his mother, a man dives into the social media black hole surrounding an unnamed right wing president. Several of my Facebook acquaintances went this route. And at times, I worried for their mental health. Several of the negative reviews of this novel complain about the character’s political angst. But his obsession is warranted. In his alternate timeline, the worst has happened and the US has descended into storm-trouper, police-state, racial-cleansing fascism.
Then, a shadowy company extends a bizarre offer, allowing him to shift timelines. Can he find peace in the multiverse?
What follows is a series of alternate nows and near-pasts; so more alternate universe than alternate history. And the author handles these subtle and not so subtle shifts cleverly. The plot never lost me, and I found the prose entertainingly of the moment. Most of the character’s heavy-lifting is psychological, but the novel includes plenty of action.
Certain readers, including avid Trump supporters, social conservatives, and racists, will struggle with this novel. Those readers might want to lay aside their prejudices or give this book a miss.
But I highly recommend this book to those of you that can lay aside politics and the other factors that divide society. Because this book is not actually about those issues. It’s about a more insidious problem in our society. It’s about becoming lost in adulthood and missing one’s own life. The last five years, packed with hatred and anxiety, have given many excuses to lose themselves. I hope this novel gives some the insight to get back on track.
This indie published first novel appears professionally edited and formatted. And the prose is high quality.