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The Completionist by Siobhan Adcock


Genre: Literary; Thriller; Dystopian
Publication Date: 19 June 2018
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“After months of disturbing behavior, Gardner Quinn has vanished. Her older sister Fredericka is desperate to find her, but Fred is also pregnant—miraculously so, in a near-future America struggling with infertility. So she entrusts the job to their brother, Carter.

Carter, young but jaded, is in need of an assignment. Just home from war, his search for his sister is a welcome distraction from mysterious physical symptoms he can’t ignore…and his slightly-more-than recreational drinking.

Carter’s efforts to find Gardner lead him into a dangerous underground, where he begins to grasp the risks she took on as a Nurse Completionist. But his investigation also leads back to their father, a veteran of a decades-long war just like Carter himself, who may be concealing a painful truth, one that neither Carter nor Fredericka is ready to face.”

My Thoughts: Good dystopian novels leave you wanting more in spite of the chills that occur from a relatively realistic future that one can easily envision. They make you think of the ways you can avoid such a fate and inspire you to promote change within your sphere of influence. Mediocre dystopian novels are ones that leave a bit too much to the imagination, never completely bridging the gap between the current present and the fictional future. They are uninspiring because you cannot envision such a future happening. Both are enjoyable at the time of reading. However, good dystopian novels are the ones that never completely leave your consciousness. Mediocre dystopian novels become nothing more than a blip on your personal radar of life.

It is important to distinguish between the two because while I may have enjoyed reading The Completionist and may have been more favorable towards it immediately upon finishing it, it is not the type of novel that will influence me in any regard.

The Completionist lies firmly in the mediocre dystopian novel category for me for a myriad of reasons, but the largest reason is the fact that I never completely believed the near-future presented in the story. Perhaps it is my own penchant for wanting to believe the good in people and in situations, but I found it difficult to believe that within fifty years the world will essentially be a wasteland brought about by nothing but environmental factors. I think one of the reasons I struggled with this is because we wait so long before we get some semblance of understanding about what happened to desiccate the world. Once we do get the backstory, it feels incomplete and too simple to explain the drastic changes. This is a world in which the Great Lakes are mostly evaporated, and there is not a drop of drinkable water on the planet. Yet people use wearable technology and self-driving cars and drink manufactured water which is not real water somehow but highly valuable. I just don’t buy it.

One other reason I consider The Completionist a mediocre novel is the supporting cast of characters. Carter, as the main character, is well-developed. We get a full understanding of the depths of his trauma and his driving need to prove himself worthy to his oldest sister by finding his other one. We discern the reasons for his antipathy towards his father well before he verbalizes them. Carter has a depth to him that the rest of his family is missing, and the story suffers. Ms. Adcock tries to alleviate this disparity in treatment by providing some much-needed backstory in the form of electronic communications between the siblings. However, these letters are too slow to reveal anything of significance about the sisters or father, and you never reach a point of comprehending their family dynamic in its entirety until it is too late. As Carter is one of the highlights of the novel with his mental, physical, and emotional trauma, it is a shame that the other characters are not at the same level as him to truly support his story.

Mediocre stories are still ones that are easy to enjoy reading, and I did enjoy reading The Completionist. It is a rather bizarre futuristic world, but that makes it no less intriguing for a few moments. Carter and his struggles are the strongest elements of the story, and you keep reading to make sure that he is going to be okay. While he alone is not enough to save the novel, he provides just enough interest to keep you going through to the end without feeling any regret about wasting your time reading it.

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