I decided to request this book on NetGalley after reading a comment which stated it was similar to Lost. In fact, the structure of the story reminds one of the TV series, but Peter Clines doesn't have the subtlety of its suspense and he crosses his mystery story with horror which ends up originating a rather weird novel.
14 is the story of how Nate moving into the Kavach building starts a chain reaction of events that culminate in the tenants discovery of exactly what is Kavach but also on the possibility of bringing about the end of humanity as we know it.
The building is in fact really weird. None of the tenants have dreams at night, there are green cockroaches with extra legs, each apartment has different size and organization and there are doors locked so they would never be opened. One can easily understand how they can't get a grip on their curiosity and, as they get to know each other, eventually become a group of investigators, much to the despair of the caretaker.
Clines' writing is simple and straightforward and his characters are generally all but pawns to his plot where the true star is the building itself. One can tell the book is, in essence, the result of the authors will to tell this story, without much dedication to the evolution of the characters, with the notable exception of Nate. The mystery is interesting and is revealed step by step, never slowing down the pace or showing too much of what's ahead. Trying not to spoil too much, if you're going to read 14 expect a mix of Lost, steampunk and H.P. Lovecraft. The book is teeming with cultural and geeky references, from Lost and Fringe to Star Trek and Twilight Zone, to the point where they become tiresome. I usually enjoy finding these small nods to cultural icons but when that is the author's sole means of adorning his text, the fun is drowned by exhaustion.
For those who don't mind SPOILERS, there's of course much more to say about 14. One of its strengths is his approach to human relations. He doesn't give them centre stage but he does show their influence on people's decision-making and he avoids those typical fittings or moralised endings. A guy finds a woman attractive but he ends up falling in love for another, not because one of them is shown to be better or worse, but simply because it happens. A weakness would be the ending, where immortal inter-dimensional travellers are dumb enough to give the puny humans time and chance to stop them from entering Earth.
Far from being a masterpiece, 14 is still competent as entertainment, leading the reader with breadcrumbs of revelations and always something unexpected waiting just around the corner, resulting in a quick and light read. I might read other works by Peter Clines, if I knew them to be more refined in terms of writing.
This review was originally published on my blog
in Portuguese and English.