Robert Brockway, The Unnoticeables. Tor US/Titan UK, 2015. Copy courtesy of the publishers.
I’m surprised, now I come to read the publicity material, to find The Unnoticeables described in part as horror. Perhaps I shouldn’t be. It does remind me, in its split-timeline narrative and engagement with a particular vein of literary Americana, in its tone and in the intrusion of the inexplicable into the relentless quotidian, of Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls. And that, too, found itself described as horror.
Neither are particularly to my taste, although I find myself with rather more affection towards The Unnoticeables: it has two main viewpoint characters, a bloke called Carey in the 1970s and a stuntwoman in her early twenties in the modern day, Kaitlyn. In their various times, they encounter things that turn people into hollow shells of themselves, or consume them.
I enjoyed Kaitlyn’s point of view chapters. Carey’s… not so much. Carey is a sexist asshole surrounded by other assholes, none of whom appear to do anything with their lives besides drink, fight, fuck, and make fart jokes: I found myself really rather rooting for the angels who wanted to “solve” the problem, or the monsters who wanted to eat them. I’m not entirely sure that’s what the author was going for.
On the other hand, it has good voice, distinctive characterisation, rapid-fire pacing and an interesting conceit. Even if I’m not convinced, in the end, that it made any sense at all.