Review: Rose by Rami Ungar

Rose by Rami Ungar
Castrum Press (June 2019)
166 pages; $9.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

I’ll be honest; I’m particularly conflicted on Rami Ungar’s debut novel, Rose. On one hand, I dig the heck out of the story being told here. On the other hand, there are some severe problems with how it is told that rub me very much the wrong way.

Let’s back up for the summary, though, as we leap into the mind of the titular Rose. She doesn’t remember anything. She’s in a strange place. Her skin has turned green and her hair is pink and tendrils come crawling out of her neck, seeking soil. Luckily for her, there is a nice gentleman present to inform her that he had to turn her into a human/rose hybrid to save her life when she was attacked by a stalker. And awaaaaay we go.

First, the good: Ungar spins a nice yarn that faces down so any problems that women deal with. You can look at it as a decently-constructed screed against so many of the bland, clichéd nonsense arguments of the incel movement. The jerk in question is written quite well, clearly not understanding that there is anything wrong with his behavior. I also dig the focus on a woman who works to exert control over her situation instead of being saved by someone else in the end.

On the other hand, the book relies way too much on telling over showing. So much of the motivations and psychological underpinnings that are displayed through the actions of the characters are also laid out explicitly, a move I tend to find a bit insulting. The way this is handled via the first person POV feels clumsy. Then there is the large amount of material that feels extraneous or just plain run into the ground that slows the momentum down to a crawl. I won’t go into the POV change, but there is a point where it changes and that annoyed me to no end.

Now, if the story description grabs you (it is quite good) and those bits that got to me aren’t things that bug you, then I’d say to jump on this. However, it does have it’s problems and I could see some tapping out pretty quickly.

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