[Book Review] We Are All Completely Fine

We Are All Completely Fine / Daryl Gregory (Powell's Books)

I originally reviewed this book/novella several months back, but then I went ahead and threw it into the reading list for Virtual Speculation.

From my original review:
There is something almost painfully intimate about this story.  We're learning about these deeply damaged individuals not through their life or as they surmount challenges, but largely through a series of group therapy sessions.  The story is told through their fears and obsessions, rather than their actions.

What happens after your survive the monsters and the attention fades away.  Can you resume your life?  And have you really escaped?
We Are All Completely Fine tells the story of 5 victims who survived incidents of nightmarish horror, and are now living in a world that doesn't acknowledge that there are real monsters in the night.

Discussion Fodder:
  • How have the characters created shields around themselves in the wake of their trauma?  How are they dealing or not dealing?  What do you think of their obsessions?
  • Barbara has visible scars, but what really bothers her is hidden inside.  She envies Greta, "What had been done to her was right there, written where anyone could see."  Do you think this is a deliberate analogy to cultural disdain for depression?
  • Their experiences have changed them in different ways.  Harrison was 'infected' through a bite as a child, Greta was created into a vessel for a being from another realm, and Jan isn't quite what you'd expect.  Are they still human, or have their experiences made them into something else?  Are they monsters?
  • How does the presence of scars or permanent damage change the healing and remembering experience?  Stan is the only one who cannot hide the damage done to his body, but the others keep their scars under wrap.  How do their coping methods and personal fixations mirror those who suffer from more "mundane" trauma and PTSD?  Are their coping methods reasonable?
  • "All of the group members, Jan included, were certain to die, almost certainly alone.  What the patients didn't understand was that this was the human condition.  The group members' horrific experiences had not exempted them from existential crises, only exaggerated them."  What else makes up the human condition?  How does surviving horrific experiences change (or not change) it?
  • At the end of the book Martin ask, "Is it over?  Do we ever get to just... win?"  Do you think it ever ends?  Is there escape?  Or does the horror always come back, just wearing a different face?


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