Michelle Herbert reviews Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan…
Whilst reading Occupy Me, I really enjoyed how indescribable it is. An Angel and a man that may or may not have split personality issues set themselves on a path that may or may not help humanity. There is time displacement and higher dimensions that sit outside of time as we know it. As well as alternative futures which can also be seen as alternative pasts and presents, yet these two characters are just struggling to understand where their place in this mess is. Occupy me is a high concept sci-fi story brimming with ideas.
At the start of the story, we meet Dr Kisi Sorle, currently overseeing the palliative care of Austen Stevens. Dr Sorle realises there are gaps in his memory that he cannot recall. After that we meet Pearl, an Angel who doesn’t know why she is on Earth, other than knowing that she must have a mission, Pearl is currently working as an airline hostess. Occupy Me has a very compelling concept at its heart. The book follows Pearl and Dr. Sorle who are both caught unaware by a mysterious hijacker, who manages to run rings around them as he tries to make his plans come to fruition. At the same time when the Pearl and Dr. Sorle become aware of the hijacker they tangentiality impact on what he is trying to achieve.
What is engaging about these two main characters is that they are as confused as we are about how they got to this point in their lives and bumble along throwing themselves deep into the craziness that follows without a plan of action. Occupy Me is written in a captivating manner, when Tricia Sullivan writes Dr Kisi Sorle, he is always written in the third person so that you feel like you are also a passenger along for the ride, just as he is. This can be slightly disconcerting when he is having conversations with other characters, but makes a lot of sense as his body is constantly being hijacked for the hijackers objectives. Whereas when Tricia Sullivan writes Pearl, it is always in the first person so we get more of her perspective and thoughts as she chases after the means to make herself whole.
As the story progresses we learn more about higher dimensions, as well as being given a lot of ideas which help to explain how this world works and why. In the higher dimensions, the beings who live there have different motivations from humanity which can put them at odds with us. Everyone is a little more and sometimes a little less than they seem. Even in the higher dimensions the beings there are still affected by causality, are these characters actions changing the past and present and does it matter on the larger scale? One person’s quest can affect the lives of millions of others and yet can you feel guilt if you do not understand the implications?
There are a number of themes running through this book which includes the purpose of identity, both Pearl and Dr. Sorle are trying to find themselves. The focus on Pearl’s quest to find a purpose for her life if she is to be stuck on Earth and never being able to return to the Higher Dimensions. Dr. Sorle looking for retribution for the damage his country of birth suffered at the hands of oil companies, as well as trying to be able to give back something to a community he left a long time ago. Love is another constant, Pearl is a being possessed with so much love for the humans around her, she has a depth of caring that is always looking for the broken and lost things in the hopes that she can fix them, but isn’t sure if this is a purpose or an identity, this is also seen in a number of other characters. Including my favourite character, Alison, I don’t want to say too much about her as she doesn’t appear in the book until mid-way, but somehow when she does arrive she just makes things better, Alison is very accepting of how her life has turned out but still has that spark that cries for adventure, even though she hadn’t followed it before.
Occupy Me is a lot of fun to read, there are so many concepts and ideas thrown into the mix and yet it all works really well. The character interactions can be hilarious at times especially when they are trying to explain away the fantastic or when they are at cross purposes to each other. Tricia Sullivan has written a vivid story that is absorbing from start to finish.