What if a child was raised on nothing but technology? Instead of books, he was shown fighting videos and pornography. Instead of nurturing and a comfy bedroom, he was kept in a dark basement? Instead of parents, he was given three doctors to track his rise(or descent) into madness. That is the basis of Jeff Musillo’s new novel, The Eternal Echo.
If you are tired of cliche riddled crime stories or burnt out romance novels for your lunch hour or evening reading, give this book a shot. This is one of those books that will make you extremely uncomfortable because of the questions it asks the reader every page and the quality of hammer it swings at the plot as it is thrust into the reader’s attention spans.
You won’t find this kind of story anywhere else. Imagine if Dr. Frankenstein got a hold of the internet back in the day when he was creating his monster. Technology lies at the center of this story. Dr. Ravensdale adopts a baby and along with a pair of doctors, raises the kid in an abandoned house that he calls “the laboratory”. They call him “The Subject”. Ravensdale isn’t looking to be a good father or start a family. He wants to get to the bottom of the human psyche. What makes people tick? Why do they need certain things like love, communication or connection? Can they live without those things?
The story is told in flashback as the Good Doctor recounts his story(from his psychiatrist’s diary of questions and observations) about how he went about his plan from a jail cell. There were three phases. Job, Date, Bullying and Sweating it Out. It’s not that simple folks. Ravensdale doesn’t just torture his lab rat pet. He puts him through the ringer. Inter-cut with questions from the shrink, it’s clear early on that the Good Doctor is mad as hell.
When asked about the lengths he went to and if he regretted it, Ravensdale says that it’s okay if you are trying to achieve something amazing. What follows is heart wrenching, shocking and gruesome. There’s science fiction, horror, action, drama and tons of thrills in this book. The Subject is put through several tests, involving getting a job at a library(doesn’t go well), dating(doesn’t go well) and other various tests and it becomes less about the Subject than it does about the upbringing of the Good Doctor.
This book has no real good guy. Nobody comes to the rescue of this wicked plan until its too late. That’s the part that makes it so real and interesting. Musillo avoids any normal pratfalls or plot twists. He doesn’t soften the blow at all. When the Subject loses his mind as his laptop is taken away or he can’t watch anymore videos, he goes crazy. When the Library Manager tells him to get to work, the reaction is something so chilling you may want to stop reading but you won’t be able to.
Musillo asks the most uncomfortable questions with a piece of fiction. If an experiment is important to human psychology, what line can’t be crossed? If you pass that threshold, what does that make you? A mad man or a mad scientist? The Good Doctor, Subject, assistant doctors and other unfortunate bystanders may be the stars of this show but the real star of this story is the brain. Something scientists, doctors and mere mortals are still trying to do this very day. That is the basis of Musillo’s thought provoking and horrifying new novel.
If you rewired a few circuits in the brain and isolated the person, what would happen? Would you create a monster or just fail? Dr. Ravensdale sees it through. So should you.
I appreciate writers who try something new and tackle a new avenue instead of following in others footsteps. Musillo does that with The Eternal Echo, asking the uncomfortable questions and letting the reader answer them.
The Eternal Echo is available on Kindle now and will hit paperback in April.