Breaking the 10
An intriguing concept is ruined by no conclusion or resolution in Breaking the 10. Sean Michael Wilson has a habit of this — his The Story of Lee came out in two volumes, four and a half years apart — so I wish I hadn’t fallen for it again, but I think prospective readers should be aware that this partial story will be highly unsatisfying.
That’s not the only misleading element. Wilson cheats the difficult parts of his tale. It’s about David, a former Christian who’s bitter after a drunk driver kills his wife and son. David rants at God a lot about this, eventually deciding to break all the 10 commandments in a bid to demand a response from a silent deity.
He starts with coveting his neighbor’s wife, playing on her sympathy at his loss. But Wilson doesn’t cover the hard part of that conversation. How did David convert a friendly, caring person into someone willing to sleep with him? How did he seduce what seems like a nice woman with a normal relationship? That’s the hard part to make believable, so Wilson just doesn’t bother showing it to us. Instead of dramatic moments such as that, we get redundant monologues and boring conversations.
There are also two observers, one blond in white who’s concerned with order, one amoral dark-haired in black, who are walking cliches that add little to the story, other than chunks of philosophical exposition that brought my reading to a halt. The art, by Michiru Morikawa, is competent but has nothing outstanding about it. The computer-done lettering, as with The Story of Lee, needed a pass by a professional copy editor before being sent to print, most obviously to remove the little rectangles that indicate a missing special character.
At the end of this installment, David’s halfway through his quest. With no memorable or insightful dialogue, no striking images, what I got out of wasting my time reading these 100-plus pages is the same thing covered in the first two sentences on the back cover — what David’s doing. The tease, whether he’ll go all the way and what will happen to him, remains.
I want to know what happens, but I would have rather read the complete story, when it was ready. Right now, no Volume 2 has yet been announced. Without knowing how long to wait, I doubt I’ll even remember what I read years later. (The publisher provided a review copy.)