Rubber Neck

Life is already challenging for Patrick Fort, a young medical student with Asperger’s syndrome. However, it proves more so, when Patrick gets an unanticipated glimpse of death and develops an undying hunger for the truth. This hunger grows when Patrick, along with 4 other medical students, meet cadaver 19. Unable to understand death or unwilling too – Patrick finds himself amid cadaver 19’s possible murder. Harboring different goals and different opinions than his anatomy peers and professors, his desire for the truth leads him to uncover a series of different truths and in the forefront of danger.

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“Death was an inverse Big Bang; an impossible magic trick where everything had become nothing in the very same instant, where one state had been replaced so completely by another that no evidence of the first could be detected, and where the catalyst had been vaporized by the sheer shock of the new.” – Belinda Bauer

Belinda Bauer’s crime novel, Rubberneck emits the essences of ‘on the edge of my seat’ literature. It’s told from the perspective of many conflicting characters through different variations of time. However, begins with the viewpoint of Samuel Galan. A car crash victim stuck in his own comatose body. From the beginning of the novel to the end you’re thrown into an influx of death, sadness, and a whirlwind of shocking ever-changing events. Belinda’s unafraid of hovering away from the sometimes-disturbing thoughts of her characters, “I could have killed you while you slept, he said, not unpleasantly” – but rather builds on them until her readers are unable to put the book down. From the everlasting downward spiral of Patrick’s mother, “his mother didn’t go to work in the card shop, and Patrick didn’t go to school. His mother slept and slept and slept” – to Tracy’s fidget, timid nature, “she thought that if her (hypothetical) boyfriend were in a coma for more than a few weeks, she’d probably just cut her losses and move on, not stick around to watch him shit in his pants for the next fifty years.” Bauer’s ability to make readers wonder and grimace simultaneously is truly remarkable.

However, in my opinion, what’s truly a page turner is Bauer’s unwillingness to romanticize Patrick’s Asperger’s syndrome. She riddles the novel with variations of Patrick’s “quirks” and his lasting obsession with death. Patrick elaborates on his speculations and readers discover how his unwillingness to let go of crucial events from his past and seemingly future, affect other characters. Readers indulge in Patrick’s disabilities, through Patrick and recurring characters, “Everybody else possessed the key to popularity and happiness, and his clumsy attempts to find his own key always ended with other children looking at him funny or calling him names.” Seemingly odd actions, normal to Patrick, give readers a realistic view of Asperger’s syndrome and allows us to empathize with him – even if we couldn’t imagine performing many of his actions ourselves. “You’re different, you know.” “Only different from you,” he said. “Not different from me.”

The growth, digression, and discovery of her compelling, complex, circulating characters are remarkable. As a reader – you must appreciate her ability to capture it all without leaving any story line unsolved or any questions unanswered. For that, I give Belinda
Bauer’s Rubberneck 5/5 stars.


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Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn about everything she can, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 8 months with an online publishing company and one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.