Nothing Better 3: Great Expectations Part 1
I was concerned, when I talked about the Kickstarter to publish this series installment, that I would have lost track of the story, given the time since I’d last read it. (The first collection, No Place Like Home came out in 2007; the second, Into the Wild, in 2009.)
That wasn’t a problem. While there’s a large cast to keep up with, Tyler Page does a great job of clear storytelling. Plus, college students struggling with relationships and big questions (am I doing the right thing? am I at the right school? what do I want to do with my life?) are pretty much universal characters. (The chapters are also available online; the next after this volume can be found here.)
One boy has a crush on a girl who’s dating someone else who doesn’t have time for her. Her roommate has a crush on her teacher. Her classmate plays in a band but is uncomfortable with how physically friendly and casual his girlfriend is. Another boy is drowning his uncertainties in alcohol. Some of his choices aren’t subtle — one character comes to realize another’s drinking is out of control after a car accident — but some items become cliches because they are common.
One technique I really liked about this volume is how each chapter begins with a character’s dream, showing what they’re worrying over or fantasizing about. I also like how Page isn’t afraid of backgrounds or detail. The world of these kids feels real to me, as though I could map out their campus. And the snow and winter weather is particularly timely.
You can buy Nothing Better 3: Great Expectations Part 1 from Page’s online store. I hope there’s not as long a wait for the next book, because having been reintroduced to these characters, I want to see more of their choices and actions. I care about what happens to them.