Review: “The History Major,” Michael Phillip Cash

Pros: Interesting concept
Cons: Confusing at times
Rating: 3 out of 5

Michael Phillip Cash’s The History Major is a novella that follows a strange period in student Amanda Greene’s college life. She got terribly drunk, and in addition to a hangover she finds that she has a new roommate she’s never met and she’s signed up for a history class she has no interest in attending. A fellow student named Nick is trying to get her to play along with the program, and hints that there are dark consequences if she doesn’t. Amanda finds herself being taught seemingly unrelated subjects: Jeanne of Arc, Lucrezia Borgia. She keeps trying to run away from the class she doesn’t want to take, but finds the exit recedes into the distance and a dark, scary-looking form pounds on the windows trying to get in.

 

Some of the history snippets she learned about confused me as to how they were involved. Eventually Amanda started to remember parts of her life that she had thought set aside, but it was sometimes difficult to make the connection. I didn’t entirely like her as a character; it felt as though Nick had more depth even though he wasn’t the protagonist. Amanda came across as shallow and bitchy throughout most of the story. There were some very strange interludes that I totally didn’t grasp, such as Amanda finding herself dancing with Hitler.

The pacing is good. The import of the lessons Amanda is learning ratchet upward quite well. The identity of the mysterious figure pounding at the doors was unsurprising, but it felt right for him to be present.

I also found that I didn’t like Amanda’s boyfriend or friends much at all as she starts remembering bits and pieces of being with them. Flawed characters are great and all, but it’s difficult to read a story where you pretty much don’t like anyone.

The concept is great, but the execution could have been clearer and could have made Amanda at least a bit more likable.

 

Book provided free by publisher for review

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