My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Angsty superheroes, depressed gods, human filth, and a whole lot of darkness. Welcome to The Conformity, by John Hornor Jacobs.
The Conformity is the third in John Hornor Jacobs’ Twelve-Fingered Boy trilogy, a series about a boy, and the group of damaged teens who surround him, learning to deal with the terrible things that have happened to them while simultaneously using their over-the-top psychic superpowers to blow holes in things, jack people’s memories, fly, and do all of the other things that people with superpowers do. The Conformity is the final book in this trilogy, and brings the story of Shreve to its conclusion (but I’ll let you decide what that conclusion is).
First off, John Hornor Jacobs has done a very good job with his ensemble in this book. The characters, though all depressed and filled with end-of-the-world angst, all feel very fleshed out and real. Each has a unique voice, which is a praiseworthy feat in itself, and even the unlikable among them have a place in the story that made me care.
The book’s plot, however, and the way the author handles that plot, is very dark. Gruesome. Sickening in places. Jacobs really accomplishes what he set out to do here, but what he set out to do is definitely not for everyone. A feeling of hopelessness pervades every moment, so much that I found myself carrying a dark cloud away with me from my reading sessions. If you’re someone who doesn’t like dark, or doesn’t like vulgarity, recognize that this will probably not be your next great read (though, if you’re thinking of grabbing this book, it’s likely you already know that from the previous two).
I also found myself a bit disappointed with the beginning and the extremely fast ending. The middle two-thirds of The Conformity was engaging and full of depth, but the bookends left me wanting more.
In all, a well-written action novel with intriguing characters, and a dark side that is as big as the Conformity itself.
Read The Conformity if you love dark superheroes with interesting, unpredictable voices, you read the previous two books and fell in love with Shreve, and/or you like the grotesque, the vulgar, and deeply angry and damaged.
Do not read The Conformity if you are easily offended, didn’t read the previous two books, or if you find it hard to stay engaged with intentionally unlikable characters.
NOTE: My reviews find both the good and the bad in the books I read, so take the information at face value, and use the rating as my own personal response to the value that is in the book. The effort of the author is valuable, and all audiences are different. Find what works for you.