Official Review: The Edge of Madness by Raymond Gaynor

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Official Review: The Edge of Madness by Raymond Gaynor

Post by cristinaro »

[Following is an official review of "The Edge of Madness" by Raymond Gaynor.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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In the early twenty-first century, Total Meltdown led to the dissolution of the former United States of America, now seen by NewAmericans as a historical oddity. Reduced to half of its former size, NewAmerica relies on global trade and the contribution of off-worlders, human immigrants to other planets. Under the guidance of Jackson, Tripler, Clarke, and Stewart, the four political icons of the new world, society has passed through major cultural, economic, educational, and religious transformations.

Draff Rob Brie [Septican-Smite] is born and raised in Emory, one of the communities in the new government capital, Chicago, concatenated in NewSpeak to “Chica.” According to the new rules, he spends only the first two years of his life with his biological parents. Immediately afterward, he becomes a member of a “social family” or “nest” and is assigned a PerCust, a personal state custodian. Together with Simi Andry Jan [Jan-Rho] and Billy Fran Frunk [Tordon-Cass], Draff forms “Trio Safe Prime” or “The Trinity.” Both his gay friend Billy and mysterious Simi accept him as their leader and fight for his love. Endowed with an extraordinary sense of smell, Draff has always felt different from everybody else. Closer to Billy but drawn to Simi, he needs to figure out who he is and what he wants for his future.

The Edge of Madness by Raymond Gaynor is a sequel to Total Meltdown, written in co-authorship with William Maltese. I particularly enjoyed the worldbuilding in this socio-political techno-thriller; it is reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The author does a great job of describing the birth and development of NewAmerica. Although we can read the novel as a standalone, the frequent references to the previous reconstruction years made me want to read the prequel.

Raymond Gaynor touches on many sensitive issues in our current world. From this perspective, the book is thought-provoking and invites us to see things in a different light. For example, NewAmericans promote an education system based on cooperation and critical thinking rather than individualism and competitiveness. As a result, graduate learners who could apply what they learned to real-life situations were in far greater demand over those simply acquiring a diploma. In terms of religion, I loved the description of Wicca, the new universal religion. Any member could join, leave, and rejoin the religious community at any time.

The novel primarily focuses on Draff’s childhood, adolescence, and early maturity years. For those who enjoy reading coming-of-age books, The Edge of Madness is also a story of self-discovery and spiritual growth. Due to his inquisitive mind, Draff has no problems learning about the history and culture of NewAmerica. His many names reflect the new social organization: he is “Septican-Smite” when first introduced to someone, “Brie” whenever he does something wrong, “Rob” when he is good to his friends and acquaintances, and “Draff” to those with whom he is intimate. Raymond Gaynor skillfully sketches the image of a strong young man who needs to come to terms with his special powers and sexual drives. Depending on his choices, he could develop into either a freak or a synesthetic savant capable of melding his senses.

Even if I was fascinated by the unique worldbuilding, I often had to re-read some of the explanations about the technological wonders of the new world (“ContraSpray,” “Eugitors,” “CandyShades,” “CandyCable,” “Forty-Seven Suits,” or “T-rips”). I know that all these inventions were an essential part of NewAmerica, but I wish the explanations were less descriptive and elaborate. In addition, the constant switch from one name to another for the same character was a bit confusing at times. Since I also noticed more than ten editing errors, I have decided to give Raymond Gaynor’s novel 3 out of 4 stars. Mainly punctuation mistakes and typos, the errors were not highly distracting, though. Some chapters have an LGBT slant or describe a new religion worshipping Mother Goddess, so those bent on dogmatic religious norms might have an issue with this aspect. There are no sexual scenes per se, but Draff’s relationships with both Billy and Simi often display an inherent eroticism. All in all, I am recommending this novel to fans of post-apocalyptic fiction who are interested in social and political transformations, technological changes, sexual awakening, and spiritual development.

The Edge of Madness
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"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)
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Post by NetMassimo »

This seems like an interesting novel that includes several important themes well mixed together. I'll look into this series. Thank you for your great review!
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Post by Marcel Cantu »

his story sounds really interesting. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of political and societal themes in the book. Thank you for the comprehensive review of this book!
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Post by Smmwallace »

This book sounds so interesting and very complex. The name changes do seem like they could get a little confusing, so I imagine you need to be on your toes when reading this book. I'd like to read this book. Thank you for the great review!
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Post by sssns »

It is interesting that it gives a different take on the sensitive issues of the current world. Thanks for the insights.
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Post by Pluma »

This sounds like an enjoyable book with some unique characters and ideas. It’s a pity that some didn’t work out so well and were a little confusing. Thanks for the great review!
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Post by yomide »

For a sci-fi novel, edge of madness seem more like a young adult fiction story. I wouldn't originally want to read something like this, but the review is quite convincing.
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Post by Joy C »

This covers some sensitive topics and seems a bit complex also. Not one I'll want to read. Thanks for a detailed review
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Post by Kavita Shah »

Why are there four different names? It would have been better if there was just one or maybe 2 names. Lol. I would like to read this book and find out about the post apocalyptic scenario. You've written a wonderful review.
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