Mysterious Book Report Children Of ParanoiaChildren of Paranoia by Trevor Shane

Dutton, $25.95, 371 pages, ISBN 978-0-525-95237-4

 It looks like old man winter’s moved in and intends to stay for a while.  To tell you the truth, he’s not one of my favorites either.  I’d just as soon have him move to the North Pole where the polar bears need more ice.  Don’t get me wrong . . . I enjoy the seasons changing . . . just don’t like the darn cold.  It makes me ache.  So, after enjoying the beautiful, snow-capped 14,000 foot mountain view out my front door, I hunker down by the fire with a good book.  I have a stack of them to review while waiting for spring to arrive.

This weeks MBR No. 31 is an interesting and unclassifiable novel titled Children of Paranoia, a first novel by a Brooklyn, NY writer named Trevor Shane.

It’s premise is arcane: a war is going on all around us in the form of assassinations disguised as accidents or random acts of violence.  The war has two sides, one of which is good, the other one evil, but the problem is, we’re never quite sure which is which.  The war is conducted by groups of assassins who have only four rules: first, no killing of innocents, those who are not participants.  Second, no killing of anyone under age eighteen.  Third, any child born to a child (those under eighteen) is immediately given to the other side to raise as their own, and the fourth and last rule . . . break any of the first three rules and you become the target of both sides.  On the first page we’re introduced to Joseph, a young twenty-something who’s been assassinating people since he was eighteen years old.  He’s a soldier in a war that’s been going on for generations, but no one knows when, why or how it got started.  Joseph’s personal war takes a radical turn when he meets a woman while on an assignment that goes wrong.  From that point, the novel twists and turns toward what the jacket writer calls a “heart in the throat” conclusion.  I’m not sure I agree with that because of the novels lack of a foundational premise, the why, and it’s nihilism, or pointlessness.  There is no reason for the war, it just is.  Perhaps it’s a reflection of the times we live in, so full of conflict and uncertainty that it afforded an opportunity for someone to write and someone to publish a book like this.  One thing about it is certain though . . . it’s been nicely set up for a sequel.  Sorry.  I’ve got other books to read, columns to write and editing to do as well as working on the follow-up to The Neversink Chronicles, which I’m happy to report, has been well-received and is flying off the shelves.


John Dwaine McKenna