Thursday, April 22, 2021

Together We Will Go by J. Michael Straczynski

I have the utmost respect for JMS.  I loved Babylon 5 since I was first introduced to it in college.  I loved everything about it, and am still amazed by the fact that JMS wrote every episode of seasons 3 and 4, and all but one of 5.  I don’t think anyone else has ever surpassed that stunning accomplishment. 

I later came to realize that JMS was the reason why I had enjoyed so many of the cartoons of my youth. His work on the Masters of the Universe, the Real Ghostbusters, and Captain Power were all ahead of their times. I read a number of his comics and enjoyed many of them. And when his autobiography came out a while back, I devoured it with delight.  (The fact that Peter Jurasik narrated it didn’t hurt.). I read one of his few fiction novels in the past and really enjoyed it, even though I’m not a big horror fan.

So I was thrilled when I found out he was writing a new novel and even more thrilled when I got an eARC from NetGalley and the publisher. 

I wish I hadn’t.

Together We Will Go is a terrible idea executed poorly.  The premise of the novel is a bunch of suicidal people get together to ride a bus across country in order to drive off a cliff in the Pacific Ocean. The book seems like it is trying to respectfully deal with all the many different reasons why someone might want to end their life. It fails this miserably. For example, a character with chronic debilitating pain suddenly seems to lose all of the pain once she falls in love. Various characters mental illnesses are treated as either comic relief or just treated poorly. What characters are unlikable, the plot is full of holes, and what could have been an insightful story ends up feeling incredibly facile. 

This book is terribly disappointing. I will definitely seek out JMS’s next book or project, but until then, I’m going to go back and rewatch Babylon 5. At least there, the subject of Commander Ivonova’s mother’s suicide was treated with dignity and respect. 

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