Review: 25 Perfect Days by Mark Tullius

25 Perfect Days by Mark TulliusA totalitarian state doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a slow, dangerous slide. 25 Perfect Days chronicles the path into a hellish future of food shortages, contaminated water, sweeping incarceration, an ultra-radical religion, and the extreme measures taken to reduce the population.

Higher taxes, strict gun control, an oppressive healthcare system. Complete media control, genetically modified food, experimentation on citizens. The push of depersonalizing technology, unending wars, government sanctioned assassinations. Is this collection of stories merely science fiction or soon to be fact? Are these policies designed for the greater good or disguised to benefit a chosen few at the expense of the masses? Is this brave new world the best we could do or part of a sinister grand plan?

Through these twenty-five interlinked stories, each written from a different character’s point of view, 25 Perfect Days captures the sacrifice, courage, and love needed to survive and eventually overcome this dystopian nightmare.

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Review

Although I don’t read them as often as I used to, I love short stories. Perfect short stories can say so much in so few words and this is a quality in writing I appreciate. It’s a small piece of emotionally packed imagination slipped into your day and it can make all the difference to your mood.

Some short stories are ones I feel would read better as novellas or full novels. I’m sure all readers have come across them and I think 25 Perfect Days falls into that category. I don’t believe falling into such a category means the stories are unreadable, but if you throw in some character development and more back story, there might be something greater for the reader to invest themselves in.

Each story is connected in some way; the settings are based on the same fundamental world-building, the characters are related somehow, and their journeys intersect as well as adding more depth to each tale. The reason I would have preferred 25 Perfect Days to be more of a novel rather than interconnected short stories is due to confusion. The basics were obvious; the government was manipulating the public, a new religion had been born and was dominating society and infiltrating the government, something horrible happened to bring it all about, and life was terrible for everyone in some way.

My confusion was more focused with character details and circumstances. A few stories didn’t quite meet the mark when it came to conclusion. One particular story, the best example, is about Claire Wells who goes and lives with a family in Hollywood Hills. Something happens to Claire, but I don’t understand it. I’m not arrogant enough to say I’m a genius (I know I’m not) but I would like to think I’m not daft either.

I spent the rest of the novel trying to figure out what Claire’s story meant and how it was related, as well as a few others, and it wasn’t until right at the end when I discovered how her story was connected to the 25 Perfect Days tapestry. It did not help with how the stories didn’t come across as connected until the midway point, even though when you begin reading you know they’re all of the same theme.

The character connections listed at the end made me appreciate the story more and, besides the stories without enough detail for my liking, some of the stories really got to me. I ended up being on the depressed side by the end, but found I couldn’t put the book down after the halfway mark. With the evident connections the pace and my interest picked up, which has now helped me get out of my reading rut.

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