I review A Character In Reality by Nicholas Bridgman.
What would you do if a character in a novel you wrote actually came to life? What if the character learned his whole reality was just a construct created by you, the story’s narrator?
In A Character in Reality, Detective Gladstone, a fictional character from the narrator’s Flaming Locket series, gains consciousness and steps out of a novel into reality. He adjusts to the real world with the narrator’s help, picking up insights along the way about what it means to be human. He eventually becomes too real to exist in the narrator’s fiction and is stranded in reality, taking up acting as a profession. He likes this work because he can be fully directed and have pre-written lines to say, just like in fiction. But when he becomes too famous, people catch on that he was originally a character from a novel, and an extremist anti-illegal immigrant group does not want him living in reality. The group believes that characters from a book belong in a book, not in the real world. Gladstone must face down the group’s leader and in so doing fully self-actualize, becoming a much loved American hero in the process.
Robert Gladstone is a detective, working hard to bring down a drug lord. He’s tenacious, committed to his job and goals in life, until he asks himself why he’s taking a particular course of action.
Meet the narrator, the writer telling the story of Robert Gladstone. Gladstone is fed up of the fictional world, so the narrator allows him to enter reality. Gladstone is overwhelmed at first at the idea that he no longer has someone to guide him, but after a few test trips to reality, he finally decides to settle down and make a life for himself, away from the narrator. He soon becomes a famous movie star, begins dating women and buys his own house.
But with fame comes discovery. The world finds out that Gladstone is in fact a fictional character, and some members of the public get angry about Gladstone being an illegal immigrant. They go all ‘dey took our jerbs!’, and try to get Gladstone returned to the fictional world. They resort to terrorist acts and violence, and use any means necessary to make Gladstone leave. But he doesn’t want to go back to the fictional world, now he has knowledge and experience of reality, and has made it his home.
The underlying story in A Character In Reality is that of acceptance, and tolerance. Illegal immigration – or immigration as a whole – is a hot topic right now, what with the racism uncovered by the Brexit vote, France banning the burkini and Trump threatening to expel all Mexicans (and anyone else who is a bit “different”) from the US. Bridgman makes it clear that, on the whole, we need to be more accepting of people, and not make others feel unwelcome simply because they are different from us, in one way or another. He also touches upon the presidential battle between Clinton and Trump, which contributes to making A Character In Reality a very current, informed book.
The writing is simplistic, perhaps too simplistic at times, and the dialogue appears somewhat contrived at times. But there’s nothing wrong with telling a story in an easy, simple way, and Bridgman succeeds in hooking the reader in.
A Character In Reality was self-published, and it is a shining example of the hidden gems you can find within the self-published market. It’s a quick read, and suitable for readers of most ages (probably not young children, mind). I look forward to whatever Bridgman is working on next.