For the review of the first part of this serial, click here.
Part 2 of Connor Coyne’s How to Survive Your First Year in College: Shattering Glass encompasses chapters three and four of the story. It is available here.
Things are starting to tighten up here, in the narrative sense. Our principal players have been defined and these chapters are more plot-driven. While the story maintains the dream-like quality present in all of Coyne’s work, these sections feel like more of a lucid dream. The reader should be plenty in tune to the rules, realities and rhythms of Coyne’s world by this point.
That isn’t to say that they are straight, mind you. Far from it: chapter three reads a lot like what would happen if you asked Harlan Ellison to do a re-write of Harry Potter. Chapter Four memorably contains Robin Hood-like book ninjas who communicate via fortune cookie.
I also have to say that I am really starting to like these characters. When reading any work, it is easy to stamp a label on the protagonists and antagonists. Character X is like my friend Bob from summer camp or what have you. This trap is particularly hard to avoid when one knows the author. Mutual acquaintances are cast as the principal players, whether fitting or not. (My friends tell me that a character is based on my friend Sawyer in everything I’ve ever written; I’ve never intentionally done that thing.)
Long aside short, I’m pretty sure that Character X in Shattering Glass is based on mutual acquaintance Y, and I much prefer spending time with Character X.
Overall, I find Part Two to be immensely successful as a serial. It builds on what we have learned, builds up to something bigger down the road (presumable, I’ve not read ahead), but still provides enough of a beginning, middle and end to stand alone. Each section of each chapter here could easily work as a short story. All you’d really have to do is throw in a line or two explaining who the main character is, and these bits are strong enough to be one offs.
Thankfully, though, we are getting more of these characters.
-M. L. Kennedy