Friday 10 March 2023

IOTA a Novel - T.M. Doran

Iota A Novel
T.M. Doran

ISBN 9781586178543
eISBN 9781681492704

This is the fourth volume I have read from T.M. Doran the other three were in the Toward the Gleam series, and this is a very different volume. Much of this story is dark and disturbing. And for much of the volume I was uncertain where it was going. A few times I even debated adding it to my ‘did not finish’ pile. However I am thankful I finished the book, by the end it was well worth it. The description of the book is:

“Jan Skala has been arrested and imprisoned by the Russian liberators of Prague, but he does not know why. Or does he?

During the Nazi occupation of the city, the journalist stayed above ground and continued to work for his father’s newspaper, which had fallen into the hands of the Gestapo. What must the Russians think of Jan? But more importantly, what does Jan think of himself?

The intriguing characters sharing his detention facility all have a backstory, but Jan cannot be sure if any of them is telling the truth. And what about Jan? Is he who he claims to be? Although the business of daily survival begins to trump every other concern, the men nevertheless struggle to understand their fate.

Iota is a poignant drama about what men believe and how they might act accordingly. The story takes place during a two-month period immediately following World War II, in a temporary Soviet detention facility near a devastated Berlin. It is a mystery-suspense story about what it means to be human and whether it is possible to retain one’s humanity in the face of evil.”

The chapter titles are all dates. The first and last chapter is June 20, 1990, and the ones between range from November 1, 1945 to December 25-26, 1945. This book is a look at a dark period and dark regime in our world. But I main character is Jan Skala, and the majority of the story is his interactions with other prisoners, guards, the camp leader, a few visitors to the camp. And within his own mind. And the most compelling part of the story is his coming to terms with his own role, actions acts, and responsibilities that lead to his being tortured and tormented for those 56 days in 1945. And it takes place in a makeshift Soviet detention facility near a ravaged Berlin.

While reading this I could not help but think about Then Raise the Dead Man High by M.L. Clark, which I had been read recently. And thought it is alternative fiction there is much the same feel in reading both these stories. I though about that volume almost every time I was reading this one. There are a few pivotal differences. For the most part this book was a dark and depressing read. And really only the final chapter really turned things around.  

The story was a good read. It would be a good read for fans of literary fiction or historical fiction for readers. Good for late teens, young adults or adults. It is a story that left me with more questions than answers, especially about the intervening years. It is a story set at the beginning of the cold war that captures much of the sentiment, fear and opinion of an early post World War II world. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by T.M. Doran:
Iota: A Novel
Circling the Turtle

Seeing Red

Toward the Gleam Series:
Toward the Gleam
The Lucifer Ego


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