Non-Review: “Netherkind,” Greg Chapman

Greg Chapman’s Netherkind is the story of Thomas. He’s a Flesher, a creature who feeds on the skin of humans and takes their DNA into himself, changing him just a little with each feeding. If he doesn’t give in to “the urge” quickly enough, his own skin starts to deteriorate. One day he meets Stephanie, who is beyond pushy and basically sexually assaults him, although he gives in. In the morning he discovers that not only is she a Flesher, who seems to know much more than he does about what they are, but she’s killed all of his neighbors. She leaves, but shortly thereafter he has an encounter with a Flesher named Nero, an outcast who seems to hate Thomas for his choice to live among humans. When the two start battling, a “prince” shows up and it seems Thomas is about to find out what he is.

Since this is a non-review, that means I didn’t finish the book, nor will I review it on Amazon or GoodReads or give it a star rating. I’ll just tell you why I decided not to finish it, and you can decide for yourself whether it would interest you. The one thing I did like is that the feeding process is pretty disgusting–it isn’t yet another eroticized vampire-like thing. But that was pretty much it.

The feeding always changes Thomas’s appearance, yet he doesn’t seem confused when Stephanie recognizes him as though he hasn’t changed after he feeds. Then later, it’s stated that he is close enough after feedings to resembling his victims that he can go through and leave messages for the victims’ friends and families. The story seems very inconsistent as to how visible the change really is.

The dissolution of his flesh seems to happen rapidly, frequently, and obviously, so it’s hard to understand how he avoids being noticed as much as he does. The idea of how thoroughly he is able to blend in vs. how erratically he behaves also seems inconsistent.

Apparently Stephanie doesn’t want to be bothered explaining to Thomas what he is–“God, you and your questions!”–except he only asked two questions and she hadn’t answered either of them. I didn’t find Thomas interesting or engaging as a character, and the other characters were even worse.

There’s way too much brooding and ruminating on Thomas’s part after Stephanie leaves. It’s just the same dark thoughts over and over again. And given how much it resembled every other brooding vampire-like being in fiction, it held nothing original.

Nero is just ridiculous and waaaay over-the-top. The introduction to the prince is overly stylized. By the time the Fleshers are ready to cart Thomas off to meet “the King”, I had no interest anymore in finding out what he was or who these people of his were or how they managed to remain undiscovered in the world. It just feels like a lot of over-used tropes bundled together haphazardly.

Hopefully that’s enough information for you to figure out for yourself whether you might enjoy the story or should just give it a pass!

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