Tonawanda News

November 19, 2012

BOOK NOOK: 'Jellyfish Dreams' a bizarre, entertaining adventure

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Author M. Thomas Gammarino leaves little trace of himself on the internet — or anywhere, really.

Outside of a brief blurb at the end of his latest effort telling readers the author is an English teacher in Honolulu, Gammarino remains a mystery. No official website, no Facebook fan page.

Outside of a lone other title, 2009’s “Big in Japan: A Ghost Story,” no other signs of the author’s existence can be found. 

Perhaps an homage to a slower time where information on a person wasn’t readily at one’s fingertips, the elusiveness of Gammarino works well in conjunction with “Jellyfish Dreams,” a speculative fiction piece. About 75 pages in length, “Jellyfish” was awarded the lofty title of “a Kindle Single,” a not-so-easy-to-obtain blessing bestowed upon some of the best short stories independent authors have published on Amazon’s e-reader platform.

For a measly $1.99, “Jellyfish Dreams” catapults readers into the world of Sam Rogers, who discovers a black hole under his couch after searching for a dropped bookmark. Sam brings in college professors to scope out the hole, with little to no progress in figuring out what happens to items, or people, that may pass through the apparently never-ending space.

At this point, “Jellyfish Dreams” is a real page-turner. Like a classic episode of “The Twilight Zone,” readers will find themselves swiftly flipping through the pages, as the endless questions behind the discovery underneath the couch beg to be answered. 

This heavily plot-based progression soon dives much deeper on an emotional level, as Gammarino goes into the backstory behind Rogers. Readers find out that Rogers was heavily interested in religion while dating the girl of his dreams in college. When his love passes away before graduation, Rogers changes majors and becomes obsessed with biology, hoping to find a way to resurrect his lost love.

This stiff mix of bizarre, eccentric storytelling with more traditional, romantic prose clashes unlike anything recently published, giving something for people of almost all reading backgrounds to chew on. Whether your tastes lean more towards fast moving, plot-addicting works, or more traditional, slow building, well written descriptive stories, “Jellyfish Dreams” has it all.

The work does come with its share of flaws, though nothing too drastic to stop the reader from enjoying the tale. The repetitive use of 2:43 a.m., for example, seemingly has no meaning behind it. While the time is used four times in the story, a connection between these events must be buried deep, if it’s there at all. 

Also, a brief, two-page passage describing a New Year’s Eve night Sam and his girlfriend shared while he was in college adds little to the story. More or less a few paragraphs describing sex the couple is having, the scene does the story little good, hardly progressing the plot or adding more to the character’s depth. By the time the scene occurs, we already know the couple is deeply in love. Cutting the scene wouldn’t have hindered the story.

Such gripes are small ones, and those engrossed in the fast paced adventure will hardly find them slowing the action too much. 

Without giving enough away to spoil the fun, the final quarter of the novel takes an even odder turn, as an army of undying jellyfish storm the shores of the world, killing countless humans and stealing their shoes. At this point, the world knows about the black hole which has been quarantined for scientific study, and countless men and women look to escape the tragedy of the oncoming slaughter by making the leap of faith into the hole. 

But where will they go? Is the hole an instant death? A path to paradise, heaven even?

The story ends with a final twist that caps the weird novel in high fashion, which won’t be spoiled here. Let’s just say this: if you do dole out the $1.99 for this fun-as-heck Kindle Single, don’t stop reading until you’ve finished the “Author’s Note.”

• WHAT: "Jellyfish Dreams" • BY: M. Thomas Gammarino • GRADE: B-

Dean Goranites publishes weekly video book reviews at unleashthis.tumblr.com, and can be reached through Twitter at unleash_this.