‘Static’ Book Review
Wilt shouldn’t be calling his little brother. Not because they never really got along, but because he died a week ago. Curtis takes it all in stride though, and doesn’t keep the calls a secret from anyone, including his surviving mother, father, school counselor, and Wilt’s hot Senior girlfriend, Suzy.
Wilt—the recently deceased—has no idea where he really is, except that he’s in some kind of huge “Aftermart” where the dead go to be counseled by after-death counselors and can purchase old things which are basically no longer made on Earth. All of this is, of course, just energy, and makes little sense as it’s explained via cell phone to 15-year-old Curtis.
Meanwhile, back in the land of the living, Curtis struggles to grieve for his brother who he still speaks to him daily. At the same time he discovers shady undertakings around his death and decides to single-handedly research what he believes is a murder. Static goes even deeper with personal struggles of Curtis struggling with ADD and what that means to him as he comes of age through this difficult time.
Eric Laster has a way of writing that cuts straight to the heart. Curtis’ struggles are exceptionally realistic. One could read the book as a study into what is like just to have ADD. Either the author has researched it extensively, or has personally experienced the disability because the first person narrative reads as though it’s a real life story. And that’s the beauty of this novel overall.
Each of the conflicts the characters encounter are so relatable it’s hard to stop reading. Conflict with the disability and struggles in high school are one thing, but the life crushing grief that so many experience as expressed through the loss of Wilt are so very human in Static. So realistic. Even though there are clear elements of science fiction with the strange afterlife Aftermart, the world depicted is not a fantasy. If anything the Aftermart is something more symbolic of how so many people don’t truly accept the death of a loved one immediately after they die. Those who go to the Aftermart continue to speak with their loved ones via phone or through letter writing—something not at all uncommon for survivors in grief to continue to try to do once they have lost someone (even though they don’t typically get a response).
Static isn’t an all ages book like Laster’s previous ventures in that it is probably PG-15, but it is certainly accessible to all demographics above that age range. Without giving too much away, it dives deep into human emotion in a realistic way void of gushy sentiment, and begs the reader to empathize and take perspective on what it is to have a disability or lose someone. Of course the plot gets pretty intense at times per the typical Laster style and actually gets into a pretty complicated web which you’ll just have to read about to see what I mean.
If you like to read books, I recommend reading this page turner. It has something for everyone: a touch of sci-fi, realism, coming-of-age, animal activism, dealing with grief, and disability, and just a solid take on life. Pre-order the book as fast as you can!