The Enthusiast by Josh Fruhlinger came to fruition by way of Kickstarter (note–I contributed at the $15 level), but don’t dismiss it because of that.
Fruhlinger writes The Comics Curmudgeon blog and you will get more out of the novel if you are a regular reader (as I am), but it’s not required for enjoying it (by the way, why are you not reading it? It’s snarky!).
The novel has several moments that made me laugh or smile. The book itself bounces along at a great clip, but the characters are so well-drawn that it’s never confusing or unclear. The main character is great–someone I enjoyed spending three hundred or so pages with (don’t let the length intimidate–not only is the prose brisk, but there are also inner illustrations and reproductions of texts that take up some space). I don’t know if a sequel is planned (the ending ties everything up nicely, but the world that’s presented here could easily accommodate one.
One of the other things that I like was that everything had a place in the plot. Some seemingly inconsequential piece of exposition would turn up later. I appreciate the thought that goes into that kind of world-building and detail work. Another level of thoughtfulness that I noticed was that the commentators from various forums read as real and distinct (I think Fruhlinger’s years of having a blog shows up there!).
Sometimes a male author will have problems writing a female supporting character, but Kate, the main character, rang true. At no point did I think “Yep, that’s what a male author would assume a woman was like” as I have with other authors.
The only problem I encountered was something that other people might not even notice, but as someone who teaches her students not to do this, I found obtrusive–the use of “you” as a pronoun when it didn’t really belong. This is not from the novel (because all of the examples are hiding from me!), but as an example: “Kate liked the look of the station. First you noticed the archways and then…” Since this is third person, that you should be a she–we’re seeing everything from her perspective. This crops up more and more as the novel progresses, but if it’s not your particular pet peeve, or you’re under 25, you probably won’t notice (those “you”s are fine–I’m speaking directly to the reader).
I recommend this novel–it’s a great, boisterous read with an interesting premise and skilled writing.