Review: “Ch05en: Episode 1,” William Dickstein

Pros: Fun little story
Cons: A bit confusing in places
Rating: 3 out of 5

William Dickstein’s Ch05en: Episode 1 is about a pizza delivery guy named Frank. His father runs a pizza business, and his mother is a supervillain. In his world, whether someone is ordinary or extraordinary is a result of having a specific gene. If you test positive for this gene, you know you’re “destined for greatness”–but that greatness could take an awful lot of possible forms. Frank has the gene, and his mother will go to terrible lengths to try to activate it and find out what sort of greatness he’s fated for–while he’d much rather deliver pizzas.


The book starts out a little rocky but improves as it goes. For instance, early on there’s a lecture about gravity having been disproved inserted into the middle of something else going on. It’s jarring, especially within that scene. Since the book starts out feeling more serious than it turns out to be overall, there are a couple of quips early on that feel out of place. The humor takes a little time to come together, which makes the ‘fate gene’ also feel a bit out of place at first. It makes perfect sense in the humorous story this turns out to be.

This is a short novella, so naturally some of the side characters seem a bit thin. Frank is a pretty interesting character, though, and I enjoy his parents and his unusual interactions with them.

I will say that there’s a scene where he gets excited by the idea that the girl he has a crush on might have popped a zit on her chin because he thinks this indicates that she was excited for their date. Just… ewww. Again, jarring.

I don’t want to give away the ending obviously, so I’ll just say I found it a little abrupt and confusing.

Ch05en is ultimately an interesting and fun little read.

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