I’ve argued with myself for quite a while regarding whether or not I would write something like this. And then, I’ve also wondered if I should perhaps wait to write this until the initial three book series is complete. Now that the audio book is out and I’m seeing so many of you jump on board (thank you so much for that, as well, you have no idea how happy this makes me), I’m starting to feel like maybe a little assistance in orientation is in order.
Overall, I think I’ve resisted the idea of this article mostly because I didn’t want to lessen the joy of a potential discovery on the part of the reader – when you solve a puzzle on your own, you invariably enjoy it so much more than if someone were to tell you, “Hey, look here.” But then, it occurs to me that the game probably isn’t terribly fair if you as the player don’t know that there’s even a game to begin with.
So I thought I might give you a few hints, though you’ll need to seek out the answers on your own as you read through these books. I will write a listing of points below that are spoiler free, followed by some that might contain spoilers if you’re good at reading between the lines; these will be clearly marked so you can avoid them as desired.
And then, if you don’t want to overturn every little rock, these stories can (it is my hope) be enjoyed passively by the casual reader.
As you read or listen to stories set within the Commune world, I would ask you to consider the following (in no particular order).
- There was an overall theme I had in mind when I started writing these; a main point that I’m trying to get across to the reader. Apart from that, I’m using these books as my own personal playground to explore and play with ideas as I go; specifically tied to human behavior. More specifically, I wanted to explore the idea that we are all two people – we’re the public persona that we share with others and we’re the private persona that we keep hidden. For some of us, that private persona is something we’re quite uncomfortable with and we avoid self examination. The structure of the first and second books is designed to facilitate this exploration.
- To the first point above, there are instances of Billy attempting to hide or obfuscate details from others, if he’s not just making a game attempt to play his cards as close to his vest as he can. It doesn’t make him a bad person, does it? We all do this in our day to day lives.
- The first two books are related completely in interviews of the POV characters, carried out by a secondary character, Brian Chambers. To this point, consider yourself being interviewed after surviving through some of the events of these books. Would you share every little detail regarding what you did, thought, or experienced, or would you hold some things back out of shame or embarrassment? Again, this goes back to the public versus private persona. There are some things we simply would not admit, especially to an interviewer, though we might let details slip unintentionally as we told our story. No one is a 100% effective obfuscator/liar 100% of the time.
- If you find a gap in the narrative, or if a character’s behavior differs when described by two different people, this could tell you a few things…
Beware of Spoilers…
- You have been warned.
- You’ll notice that you never get to hear Billy’s side of the story directly from Billy’s point of view. You have to rely on the accuracy of Jake and Amanda.
- Does it seem to you as though Jake’s attitude toward killing others undergoes a moral shift between his POV and Amanda’s? He seems rather broken up after the shoot-out at Pep Boys…
- When Jake tells his side of the story, he seems more animated compared to how Amanda presents him.
- Sometimes, a POV character encounters something he or she doesn’t understand. Such a person might try to describe the experience, and that description probably sounds nonsensical to anyone who wasn’t there. This is just a failing on the part of that person to accurately convey what he or she saw. There’s always a logical explanation for what happened.
- Amanda has many more POV chapters in book one than Jake. This is probably because Jake makes it a habit to avoid Brian’s interviews. The first book is the only time we’ll hear from Jake directly. The definitude of those details which he struggles to convey is, as always, left for the reader to ascertain…