3 out of 4 stars
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During a business trip to Manila, Peter Romanos receives an anonymous email, the sender yearning for a chance to meet him. Despite disregarding the email at first, Peter gradually becomes obsessed with identifying the sender. However, their plan to meet in person goes awry when the World Trade Center collapses, claiming the lives of Peter’s friends. Assisted by his wife, Leila, he revisits his old life to discover a link to this enigmatic person. However, the moment his life seems to have finally come full circle, tragedy strikes again. Fateful Eyes by Dr. Panos Nomikos recounts Peter’s lifelong quest for beauty and clarity.
Nomikos adopted a flowy narrative, seemingly emphasizing the point that life is indeed an ongoing journey. The dreamy and artistic prose fitted beautifully to Peter’s soul-searching character. As the story went back and forth in both time and place, it was initially difficult to keep track of the events. However, this style later turned out to be one of the greatest assets of the book.
The novel was a perfect example of a character-driven story. Nomikos reflected on the quirks of each character, major or minor. The flashback scenes demonstrated how Peter evolved from a starry-eyed boy to a practical man. His earnestness and perseverance were undoubtedly inspiring. However, Leila’s portrayal as an insecure yet loving and supportive companion appealed to me the most.
A backdrop of terrorism put the events of the book into perspective. Using Peter's example, Nomikos depicted how the brutal attacks wreaked havoc on unsuspecting and innocent people. As various characters voiced contrasting political views regarding the countermeasures, the book’s firm stance against terrorism was evident. Nomikos also stressed that terrorists were devoid of humanity; it would be wrong to associate any specific religion or nationality with them.
In contrast, the unnecessarily graphic scenes of Peter’s youth did not thrill me. Although instrumental in highlighting Peter’s character, the continuous parade of lovers made the story repetitive. Also, I disapproved of his self-absorbed nature. He became so engrossed in his quest that he often ignored Leila’s insecurities and took her for granted.
Considering these points, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. I deducted one star for the issues I mentioned. The narrative contained very few errors that did not detract from the reading experience. I would recommend this novel to those readers who appreciate thought-provoking, character-driven books. If you are looking for a happy ending, then this is probably not the book for you. At the same time, the intense subject matter and the explicit scenes demand a mature audience.
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