I first have to say that this is the first time I’ve read a book written by someone I know personally. I wanted to read this second book by him because the premise sounded interesting and I wanted to be supportive of his writing. Needless to say that Ghosts of the Desert wasn’t anything that I was expecting.
Norman is a professor from Indiana heading out west to study ghost towns. He’s captured by a group of people who proclaim themselves to be Jacobyites from the town of Jacobyville. They keep him in this town and tell him that in order to escape, he must first learn to live like them, but then afterwards he might not even want to live anywhere else afterwards. Woven in between the present is Norman’s past and the sins that he’s committed. Does he want to live in a world created by rules that he has to answer to, or does he want to live as their pre-historic ancestors (as I like to say they are) have always lived.
I’m not sure how I felt about the book. I enjoyed the language of the book and sometimes there was a good line or two. But I’m not sure if I totally fell for the story. I didn’t like Norman at all and Jacoby seemed a little too godlike, like he had to be perfect for everybody, like a savior. I think it’s one of those books that can be described as post-apocalyptic, something similar to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. There’s nothing happy about it, nothing that you wish was real so that you could live in it. There are hermits, I know, but are they this violent and disdainful of others that they want to kill them?
Still, I’m glad I read it. I can see Ryan’s potential in his writing and I hope he continues to publish. Maybe he’ll reach success one day.