An Unfortunate Dimension by Dominic Schunker is a mind-bending trip over a multi-dimensional landscape. The author invites the reader on a journey through a real, present day, not quite normal, everyday world. Then, as if in making a multi-layer cake, Schunker imposes on top of it two worlds. One is a world that is presently in development, one of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR). A second additional world exists in an alternate dimension, one that exists in the present but has also existed in the past and is not constricted by hypotheses of AI or the hard wiring necessary that is bringing out VR devices we see offered today.
The first world, a base, has added complexities which contribute to this being a psychological thriller. The second world, AI and VR, will appeal to gamers. I am not a gamer, but after reading this, I will consult my son and request he guide me through some of the basics. This novel will inspire non-gamers to look anew at a world they previously thought was “just for kids.” The third world should appeal to a reader who has faith that humans can and will be better. A lot of agnostics will be in this reader group; it is a faith-based group without the need for the techie stuff.
From the above, review readers might conclude I liked this book. Five Amazon stars and get on with it. Almost. Read to the end; this novel invites discussion. Dimension is a novel I would love to read in a book discussion group. It is not for everyone because of some of the fantasy elements or the demands for belief in a better world. Pessimists won’t like it. For readers attached to a belief in the way a novel should be organized, there might be a bit of criticism. The novel has 28 chapters. From Chapter 23, Nerosonic, it was almost as if I could read the chapter and its successors to the conclusion while standing on my feet and cheering. These were very good and inspiring.
Chapter 1 to Chapter 23 had a few bumps in the road and threatened to derail reader interest. I did not become engaged with the story until Chapter 6, Coup de Ville. The first five chapters were good; they were action-packed. But up until Chapter 6, I could not find any unifying thread. I didn’t abandon the novel, but I started reading others at the same time. My interest in this novel was overtaken by an interest in others, and I almost shelved this one. Luckily for me, I received an email from the author asking where I was in the novel. I had promised a review. Back to Dimension with feelings of guilt; I honor my reading commitments. Fortunately, I engaged with the adventure in Chapter 6, and it was all good from there.
Salvador is our hero and the main character, although when we meet him, he seems mostly devoted to alcohol and appearing naked, unintentionally, in the strangest places. But we can put that down to “time jumps.” Salvador will lead us on a path to discovering his past lives as he revisits them on a quest to save the love of his life, Jemma. Salvador might even take us into a future event; readers hang on to see if this happens.
Jemma occupies most of this story in a coma. Doctors are waiting to pull the plug. Because Jemma can give mental winks, nudges, and nods to Salvador indicating that she is still sentient, Salvador accepts no one’s opinion that Jemma is almost clinically dead. He will find clues Jemma is communicating to him that will unlock a mystery which in turn might restore Jemma.
Jemma’s mystery, a problem to be solved not only for the good of Jemma, is the story of Ashlen, a young girl who has been kidnapped and enslaved by a pervert who was looking for a wife. Chapter 20, Sanctity, can be difficult to read, although I am not justifying a trigger warning.
Salvador’s mission has a main focus, but not a sole focus, on saving Jemma. Salvador is aware of the mystery that is Ashlen. And there is the lovely Camille, a childhood friend (girlfriend?) of Salvador. She is also a mystery for Salvador; she had abruptly disappeared from his life when she was thirteen. At various points on Salvador’s quest to save Jemma, Camille will appear and reappear, sometimes in a somewhat ghostly manner. Some sexual situations might put some readers off but, again, I saw no need for a sexual language trigger warning. Scenes are not salacious.
I found Schunker’s character descriptions complete and appealing. Jemma is every girl I would like to meet both due to great physical and emotional descriptions. Camille is well described and projects overall sadness at her fate. Reader emotions might follow, mine did.
While I was reading, I wanted to give this a four-star Amazon rating because of organization mentioned earlier. But I couldn’t do it. Dimension deserves five stars as a unique genre-bending read. If the novel were evaluated solely as a psychological thriller, a fantasy thriller, or a time travel tale, my rating might differ. In combination, this is a superb read that will ask for the reader’s attention but will then reward the effort.
An Unfortunate Dimension is for sale at Amazon for USD 3.99 and is not yet available through Kindle Unlimited. The story is worth the price of admission.