I’m always intrigued by an author that has the guts to make
none of his characters likeable.
That’s exactly what Alan Weisz does in ‘Finals,’ the story
of Wayne York – a college student with a sinister side.
What’s interesting about ‘Finals’ is that Wayne – who is the
narrator of the story – tells you he committed a murder in the first chapter,
and yet you’re still interested in his story.
Wayne is an interesting protagonist because he is entirely
unlikeable. This is not a kid you would have wanted to hang around with in
Wayne mimes being a “normal” college kid by surrounding
himself with friends – and even an ex-girlfriend – but he shows no real empathy
or emotion for them.
That’s not to say the classmate that he murders didn’t have
it coming – because that kid was another sociopath. The problem is, as rotten as that kid is, as
a reader you never quite come to the conclusion that he deserves death.
None of the characters in ‘Finals’ are likeable. I wasn’t
actively rooting for anybody – and yet I kept reading. The story is fascinating
on a philosophical level. The problem is, despite the deep tone of the book,
you don’t end up learning anything from it in the end.
As a reader, I think you need to approach ‘Finals’ as an
experiment in understanding different people – because none of these people are
individuals that I think most readers can identify with. Still, the story is
poignant and interesting – so I recommend giving it a try.
Weisz does a good job trapping the reader in his world – and
relentlessly holding on to him – even if the outcome isn’t what you expect.
The book is pretty well written – although typos and grammar
become an increasing problem throughout the book. I’m pretty forgiving with
typos – but they get really flagrant with this book at certain points. This
book would be really good with a solid editor going over it.
My only quibble is that, in the end, I never got a feeling for
why Wayne was doing what he was doing. There were hints. There were allusions.
There was nothing I could grasp as truth, though, as far as motivation goes.
In the end, I would recommend ‘Finals’ to anyone that likes
rich character studies. There’s not a lot of frivolity in the book – or mindless
laughs – so if you embark on the journey be prepared for a bumpy ride.