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Extremities by Kathe Koja
reviewed by J.M. Frank

Not everything always makes sense. If you like to pick up a book and escape from this world’s chaos and disorder into a place with cleaner boundaries, don’t read Extremities. The stories in this collection are filled with people coming apart, rules of reality breaking down, and sometimes both. These works are told as puzzles, with readers having to piece together what is happening as they go. The endings, while resolving the initial puzzle, often present a new one.Surveyor

Koja’s prose and story-telling style is unique. She runs heavy on the description, but without becoming overly dense. The greatest strengths of these stories often lies in a description, a situation, a feeling. For example, in one story of a man who gains the ability to fly, the descriptive passages of the man in flight give the reader a jubilant and liberated feeling. In other stories, Koja creates a strong sense of melancholy while leaving the source of the feeling vague. One such piece tells the story of a strange creature captured by a group of teenagers. Another piece juxtaposes a rather superficial modern relationship with a mythic story of a young, comatose prince. Sometimes, the stories are appealing for their interesting situations. For example, one story has a group of deceased people returned to Earth without a mission, guidance, or rules. They just sit and wait. Somehow, I found this image of the afterlife interesting. Extremities will not appeal to everyone. I personally found that

Extremities will not appeal to everyone. I personally found that several of the stories did nothing at all for me. The obsession and longing in Koja’s characters is painfully real, however the characters often did not have much depth beyond this singular, overriding trait. The prose is very tight, but the resolutions are usually loose. Of course, these are not necessarily bad traits in a story, just elements of the author’s personal style, and for many, Koja’s style will be a refreshing change.

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Extremities is published by Four Walls Eight Windows

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