As reviewers, authors are the hardest critics out there. They have their own reputation to think of. This is why I'm so over the moon that I Am Not Gog has received this very thoughtful and glowing review from author J R R R Hardison:
"This was an odd, off-kilter, strange but moving read. I guess that’s to be expected from a book in which the protagonist starts off more than a little mad. I enjoyed the book and it kept me engaged and bemused until the last page.
Lydia Japhethson is a frumpy, middle-aged English woman. After a childhood marked by loss and scarring instances of bullying and abuse, followed by an adulthood of self-doubt, marginalization and the occasional breakdown, she feels as if she’s circling the drain. She begins narrating her tale shortly after a miscarriage of justice threatens her quiet existence and drives her to take drastic steps to set things right. Unfortunately, her plan is poorly thought through and generally unhinged. Rather than fixing her situation it results in a tragic consequence that propels her out of her unhappily comfortable existence and off into a larger, more threatening but more interesting world. What follows is a beautifully odd journey of self-discovery, reinvention and the hope of redemption. If that sounds deep, layered and meaningful, it is – but it is also an engaging, entertaining and enjoyable read.
Based on the blurb and cover of the book, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. I was afraid it might feel pretentious or preachy – or that I wouldn’t be able to relate to the protagonist. Instead, I was drawn in from the first page and found myself feeling connected to Lydia and her perspective. I Am Not Gog manages to feel both authentic and unpredictable – an excellent collision of everyday people and moments with quirky, extraordinary events and perspectives.
I found the book a convincing look into the mind of a character struggling to keep a grip on reality while fighting to understand her own worth and place in the world. It’s easy to just enjoy I Am Not Gog for the characters and events and the interesting ways in which they are presented, but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface that loads the characters and plot points with well-crafted layers of deeper meaning and symbolic relevance. Sure, it’s the tale of a batty, middle-aged woman going off the deep end and then on the lamb from the law, but there’s more to it than that – from big things like the key antagonists representing different levels of the embodiment of evil, to small things like three guests at a bed and breakfast representing the philosophers Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Georg Hegel.
I Am Not Gog is a compelling mixture of innocence and sophistication, darkness and light, the strange and the familiar. It’s not overtly epic in its scope, but it’s an engrossing study of a strange but everyday character trying to survive and thrive amidst what feel to her like epic events that occasionally do shatter lives. The characters are well drawn and believable, the plot is tightly structured without feeling predictable or contrived and the end is satisfying without being pat or cliche. The book is well edited. I didn’t encounter any typos or grammar issues.
Overall, I Am Not Gog is a thoughtful, satisfying meditation on the struggle to find and know yourself. I give it 5 out of 5 stars."