The Unsteady Object of Hope - Book Review

The Unsteady Object of Hope

Author: Robert Raker
Genre: Fiction - Thriller - General
Publisher: Independently published
Date Published: September 1, 2019
ISBN-10: 1688283048
ISBN-13: 978-1688283046

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Book Review of :  The Unsteady Object of Hope


Poignant and riveting, The Unsteady Object of Hope, by Robert Raker, is a dark novel centered on the horrors of the savage murders of several children. The novel illuminates the tremendous amount of collateral damage that a community endures because of these killings. Raker uses first-person accounts of the private lives of multiple characters affected by these murders to characterize the chilling brutality of the grim world the story lives within.

The Unsteady Object of Hope is resplendent with visual imagery for much of the descriptions of the novel’s places and scenes. Using bodies of water and falling rain, the author interconnects the lives of his characters beginning with a forensic diver who must retrieve the bodies. The author invades the diver’s mind as he approaches a child’s carcass, a mutilated body.

With graphic descriptions of decay and death, the diver must either turn his back on the job he’s been trained to do and swim away or compartmentalize his emotional struggle with depression to survive in his private life.

The children’s tragic deaths affected the town’s people in different ways. The children’s parents and relatives react in horror. Concerned neighbors in the depressed town locked up their own children. Someone is always relieved that it wasn’t his child. That, too, has to be hard to live with, glad that a different child, not your own, is dead. “no one understood how powerful and destructive the truth could be.”

The crime scenes have lasting effects on everyone in the small decaying town. The graphic details, the stench of death, imagery of the gruesome bloated bodies assault the reader’s senses. The author weaves together seemingly disparate characters. The private life of each of the characters affected by the senseless deaths is told in mesmerizing psychological detail. He explores what tragedy does to lives in emotionally persuasive personal relationships. The profound suffering that individuals experienced is not presented sequentially but through flashbacks and reminiscing. Marriages and relationships collide with rash decisions ripping couples apart. He has his character Noemi struggling to understand her husband Roland and how his connection to the murder of a teenager named Penelope has ripped him mentally apart. A recollection of her rotting carcass even invades his consciousness at a wedding and to his embarrassment causes him to vividly hallucinate the evil scene in the public setting.

Reaching toward a conclusion, four of the unforgettable characters are thrown into close proximity as their lives entangle. “it was a horrible thing, being trapped inside a costume of self-hate because a man could run from everyone and everything in the world, but himself. That could never change, the internal essence of what a man felt, what he was born with, what drove him to make the physical and emotional choices that another man wouldn’t.” Raker shows an obsession with the rare, crucial moments when life-defining decisions are made and chronicling the eventual consequences that ensue.

Through several jumps in time, narration, points of view, harrowing twists and the moody convergence of lives Raker succeeds in painting a riveting picture of an evil sickness pervading society. Metaphor and allegory coincide with intense storytelling.

Raker writes in his own unique voice and style. His novel is calmly realistic about the suffering, risk, and bloodshed of the human existence. His sincere engagement with his writing speaks volumes of an author who desires to strike a nerve with his audience.

Reviewed by: Carole W

About Robert Raker


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