Next: A Novel
Reagan Arthur Books (2010)
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (04/10)
Kevin Quinn is a fifty-year-old editor from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He seems to be experiencing a midlife crisis because he is obsessed with his former girlfriends, as well as his current one, and their desires to have babies. As the book begins, Kevin is on an airplane headed for a job interview in Austin, Texas. He is deeply worried about the plane being brought down by a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile because four days prior there was a terror attack that hit six cities in Europe. He arrives several hours before his interview is to take place, so he spends his extra time wandering around the city and has some wild experiences.
Author James Hynes has created a masterpiece with “Next.” He does an excellent job of describing the setting – including the stifling heat, the layout of the city, and the people Kevin encounters. I found Kevin’s paranoia about his plane being attacked humorous. The story takes place over an approximate time span of only six hours. The beginning of the book is pretty slow, mainly focusing on Kevin’s soul searching about his past relationships. But there is a great deal of activity involved after the first half of the story. The ending was unexpected, but well worth the wait.
Kevin is an interesting character and it took me a while to form an opinion about him. At first it bothered me that every woman he saw in Austin reminded him of one of his ex-girlfriends. Part of me wanted to say let go of the past and move forward because he does not seem satisfied with the way his life evolved. On the other hand, change can only happen when one remembers what caused him to lose his way in the first place. In the end, I liked him because of the scene in the department store restroom. I believe he was finally trying to reinvent himself.
“Next” by James Hynes is a novel you do not want to overlook. The beginning is slow but do not give up or you will miss out on a quality story with an incredible ending.