Review of Two-Lane (Repaved) by Nathan Henrion
Fear is the acute sensation of hope leaving the body. – Nathan Henrion (2.116)
Two-Lane is a story about a man, heading off with his wife in an attempt to rekindle their relationship. When they end up trapped in the desert, fighting for their lives, an old hermit comes to their rescue. The lead character, Jack, discovers his life has led him away from his wife, Laura, and now he must fight to save her.
Overall, the book was very enjoyable and entertaining, with vivid imagery, strong character development and smoothly delivered plot direction. Nathan Henrion’s writing in this suspense thriller and paranormal story captures the reader’s attention. He keeps the reader engaged throughout the book making it difficult to put it down.
I really enjoyed this story. The imagery produced stays with you; I learned this first hand. I was out hiking at Thunderbird Conservation Park, north of Phoenix. It was early evening, so I rushed to get through my hike before nightfall. In my haste, I slipped on some rocks and injured my knee, straining the anterior cruciate ligament. While recuperating from the injury, I read Henrion’s Two-Lane (Repaved). After finishing the book, I returned to the same hike to attack the hill that had assaulted me a month earlier. As I approached the spot where I’d taken the tumble on my previous hike, I saw a thunderhead begin building in the distance over White Tanks Mountains. The dark menacing thunderhead brought back the description of the mountain storms Henrion used in “Two-Lane”; “Like a low, pitch black fog, a stream of shadows rushed north across the desert, at the base of the western mountains.” Strangely, as I approached the evil rock that had tripped, the thunderhead grew more ominous. I pressed on and, unsurprisingly, did not fall to my death; but the imagery of shadows swarming and attacking did cross my mind.
The author continues this vivid imagery throughout the story. He describes Boots from the two characters’ perspectives. Each description takes notice of visual impact from their separate personality traits. These contrasting viewpoints advance the development of the characters for Jack, Laura and Boots.
The character development leads the reader to empathize with both Jack and Laura. The lead character, Jack, appears self-absorbed, but the reader observes his conscious effort to save Laura. The reader wants Jack to succeed but knows he needs to change his ways. Laura remains with her husband, but knows their marriage ended years ago. The psychopathic murderer, Colten, continues his fight for some perceived purposeful force that manipulates him. The teenage girl, Molly, seeks maturity by running away from home, only to be abducted and held against her will. The forces of good and evil, Boots and Seth, combat to manipulate or direct the other characters actions.
Jack begins as a businessman seeking escape. As the writer reveals more of Jack to the reader, we observe his selfishness but also his self-consciousness. When Colten confronts Jack in the gas station, Jack reveals he struggles with a stuttering. Jack fantasizes about slamming Colten’s head into the counter for comments he made about Laura. The exhibition of the rage tendency develops another angle of Jack’s personality. The writer established Jack’s stuttering, but never used the speech disorder to reveal Jack’s nervous mental state when under pressure.
After introducing the subject violence in the Prologue, the writer restarts with subtler plot development. The writer gradually establishes and reveals the ongoing conflict between the Jack and Laura. The couple heads out across a desert highway to get away from the busyness of Las Vegas with the hope of reconnecting, but their solitude results in more conflict. This irritation continues through the story, culminating when Jack leaves Laura. After discovering his true feelings, Jack must drop his self-pity and employ all of his strength to rescue Laura.
Throughout the book, the author refers to the path heading up to the cave as a “two-trail”. I could not find this term or phrase in any reference book. I suspect the author intended to use the term “two-lane”, like the title of the book. However, “two-lane” would refer to a road designed to handle two lanes of travel, where as the key events in the story revolve around the trail between the rocks. The author correctly used “two-lane” to describe the highway where Jack and Laura stopped at the gas station. However, in this book, the phrase “two-trail” is used to refer to a narrow, single-lane path that weaves between rock walls to a clearing at the cave. A book title of “Two-Trail”, along with an informal reference labeling the path as “Two-Trail”, would have brought this together. In some aspects the author did attempt to deliver this title, but something more revealing, like the sheriff calling it by name, would have been more transparent.
I struggled to maintain a reading pace during some of the monologues and character interaction with Boots because of the phonetic dialect used for his character. At first, this established an accent or heritage that helps define the character. It became distracting in some of the sections with excessive use. In Part 2, soon after Jack regains consciousness, he stands near the cemetery staring at the gravestones. Boots joins him, “You sure yous fit to be outs here? Shuld be inside restin’ yousself.” (sic, 2.51) Here, for example, although “shuld” reads phonetically correct, the use of “should” would not have changed the tone, pronunciation or meaning of the sentence. In the next paragraph, Boots says “Not too many folk in dar wort’ da time for talk” (sic, 2.52). Again, the dialog can be read, but takes a little effort. I needed to read it multiple times to make sure I understood what the writer was trying to convey about what Boots was saying.
Overall, Nathan Henrion’s Two-Lane (Repaved) delivered entertainment very well. The author showed imagination and creativity with his character outline. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction.
Henrion, Nathan. Two-Lane (Repaved). Online: CreateSpace, 2009, from Smashwords, 2010. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5969>