Review: Becoming by Glenn Rolfe

By Glenn Rolfe
Becoming by Glenn Rolfe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's something in the water, deep within the lake, at ol' Avalon, ME. Children are disappearing, and people are acting funny - and by acting funny, I mean their eyes are glowing with a green bio luminescence bright enough to light up a room. Friends and neighbors are not just changing...they are becoming.

In this novel's opening pages, before the story even begins, in the Praise for the Author section, a few of the blurbs struck me for what is certainly an apt description of Glenn Rolfe's talents and of this book in particular. Both Richard Chizmar and Adam Cesare make use of the word "throwback" in describing Rolfe's werewolf novel, Blood and Rain, with both likening Rolfe's writings to the horror stylings of paperback originals from 20 or 30 years ago.

It's an apt assessment, I think, and Becoming certainly has an old-school flavor to it. This is a work that wears it influences proudly, and you can tell Rolfe consumed a steady diet of horror works like Stephen King's Tommyknockers (a work that Rolfe cheekily gives a meta nod toward with a character reading the book on her Kindle while the plot unfolds) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

While clearly influenced, Becoming never struck me as being overly reverential to either of those works. Rolfe hits a comfortable stride early on in this book, and while the supernatural goings-on are a nifty device, it's the characters that are really worthwhile. He hits some important notes with the decidedly less than idyllic relationship between Clint Truman and his father, as well as the father-daughter relationship between Bret and teenage Michelle Cote. Family plays a vital role in underpinning Becoming's thematic nature and the character's longing for stability in their interpersonal relationships. It's good stuff!

Michelle, one of the central leads with a few personal stakes in the story, makes for a solid, youthful heroine. She's got some real grit, and it's impossible not to root for her, particularly as she asks herself What Would Veronica Mars Do?.

Becoming is a swift read, and has a few good scares and gore. I would have liked to know more about Jade Lake and the evil lurking there, but Rolfe opts to keep things mysterious and that's OK, too, because he succeeds in delivering a really good, small-town creature feature.

[Also included in Becoming is Rolfe's previously-published novella, [book:Boom Town|23715851], which I've read and reviewed previously.]

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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