Sunday, March 9, 2014
Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
If you like: Blue Balls * monsters * Mommy
In Nocturnal, a strange series of murders leads police inspectors Bryan Clauser and Pookie Chang to make unexpected discoveries about the world they live in. Initially, it appears there is a cover-up reaching through all levels of the police force. As the investigation goes on, they learn that there is a much darker explanation. Along the way, Bryan makes some unexpected discoveries about his own life, and must let go of everything he believes about himself and his life in order to move forward.
Nocturnal explores the mysteries of science and society. The monsters are a secret race from a parallel evolutionary branch. Many appear to be normal humans, but have extraordinary abilities. Others have a different genetic fate, and pay the price for their superiors skills with physical and mental deformities, or inhuman physical characteristics. It is unclear whether it is an essential development to their survival or an inherent part of their nature, but all of the monsters hold an innate preference toward violence and killing. They work to confirm that trait in their traditions and interactions -- teaching children to hunt ruthlessly from a very young age. Though they are a powerful group, they are greatly outnumbered by the general population, and live in secret to avoid being put to extinction. There are some members of society that are aware they exist. These people have worked to keep the monsters a secret. Not because they wish to protect them, but instead because they wish to protect innocent people who might be accused of carrying the mysterious new biology and murdered along with the vicious hunters they are suspected of being related to. This secret group despises these creatures, but must also protect them in order to maintain their agenda of public normalcy.
In Nocturnal, the real monsters are not just those who live underground. Some of the biological monsters are completely unaware that they could live without harming others. They have never had the chance to try to live a normal life, and so they behave in monstrous ways became they do not know there are other ways to live. There are, however, many human monsters. Abusive parents, school bullies, and corrupt police are all humans who commit monstrous acts. On the other hand, there are monsters who occasionally do the right thing. Savior shares the biology of the monsters, but acts against them instead of with them. Those who live in the area between are the most difficult to assign to one group or another. Amy Zou, the Chief of Police, often believes she is doing what is for the best, but is more than willing to compromise traditional morality to do so. In the past, she believed in black and white, in good and evil. Now she knows the lines are not so clear cut, and walking the path between them puts her in a compromised position. She has learned that doing what is right does not always have the best results, and sometimes the wrong thing protects the most people. For the monsters, who have a biological imperative to murder and kill, there is a still an element of choice. Bryan and Savior both choose to be something different. They could easily be ruthless monsters and terrorize everyone, but instead choose to hunt their brothers and sisters. This is the difference between good and evil, monsters and heroes. It would be easy to give in to nature and expectations. Fighting who you are and who you could become to work toward the greater good is what makes a hero.
If can’t resist an appealing smell, read Nocturnal.
Sigler, Scott. Nocturnal: A Novel. Crown Publishing Group, 2012. Kindle Edition.