We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory © 2014 Tachyon
Dr. Jan Sayer has put together a support group for severely traumatized crime victims who believe they were attacked by the supernatural. Their individual traumas are stylishly wicked—including cannibalism, branding, surgical bone engraving—and the group suffers typical group dynamics—conversation hogs vs. nonparticipants, conciliators vs. the easily offended. So far, so good.
As the group progresses, one member singles out another as the “monster,” the group has generally described as responsible for their fates. Whether this member is or is not the monster was the conflict.
The main character, perspective-wise, was Harrison Harrison (no, that’s not a typo, that’s his name), a supposed “monster slayer” upon whom books and TV shows have been based. Now, he wants nothing to do with his past, which left me head-scratching why he joined the group in the first place, but Dr. Sayer’s pursuit of him became apparent later.
The “monster” member is then abducted by an evil Sisterhood (the branders), and the group has to work together to save, or perhaps destroy, the “monster” member. To this point, Fine was great! The members’ weird-ass traumas were all coming together to mean something big, and I couldn’t stop turning pages. Also, on a literature-geek level, Gregory’s use of the group as a collective first person character was odd and effective.
It all fell apart when the Sisterhood’s motive was revealed, and this is a spoiler alert, should you care. The “monster” character, Greta’s, body contains the monster. She is the bottle keeping an evil genie from the real world. The Sisterhood is after Greta to make her transfer the genie to a new bottle-girl.
Why do they want to do this, you may ask, as did I, over and over?
Greta is, like, in her twenties, and she’s keeping the world safe from the genie, which is the Sisterhood’s purpose. Yet, they suddenly want Greta to cough him up? I didn’t get it, at all. It was a way to let loose the genie and create a nail-biter scene, but I was hugely disappointed to see an imaginative, well-written story wrap up with total nonsense.
I understand supernatural fiction never resolves cleanly. The writer inevitably paints him or herself into a bullshit corner and has to perform logical gymnastics to wrap it up more or less coherently. I can overlook some illogic in the ending if the story is otherwise good (see The Hills Opened Up, NOS4A2, The Games, et.al.), but Fine crossed the line from somewhat illogical to incoherent. I sensed Gregory got in a hurry. With a heavy heart, I consign Fine to the recycling bin.