Oscar, Part One (Going Underground) – by L.n Denison – Review

Mainly for those interested in Oscar of Underground novel

Although it starts out as a pseudo-history book (“David and Janna were regarded as political activists, disseminating their conspiracy theories on why the war between England and Scotland began in the first place. The reason for the initial outbreak was simple: England’s greed-fuelled seizure of Scottish lands and properties. The Scots awaited the day that they would become an independent country and when that day came, they jumped into battle to try and regain what was rightfully theirs. For six years they had been trying and failing at every turn.”), the narrative quickly switches to the ordeal faced by Oscar and his parents (“For no apparent reason, he had been pushed face-first into the concrete by one of the patrolmen, who then began to kick his helpless victim to a pulp. His misery was exacerbated by the participation of another aggressor.”) – note that the following passages may be uncomfortable for some readers; thankfully Oscar’s pains were somewhat mitigated with the help of a sympathetic fellow named Sam (“he resolved to find Oscar and keep him by his side.”), who of course, is not what he appears to be!

The way the character of Oscar grows through the three stages of life is quite meticulously handled by the author. Be it his trust issues (“If he was finding it difficult to trust Sam, then who could he trust?”), to his inherent leadership qualities (“‘We need to get out of here as soon as possible; we may no longer be safe.’ he warned. He may have been only seven, but Oscar knew what John was trying to say.”) as well as his frustration and aggravation (“Oscar backed away angrily, and then turned and ran. He headed back upstairs to his bedroom and slammed the door with emphasis”) are finely delineated. The dialogs are pretty much spot on, with just about the right words being said at the right time (“‘Just a few hundred yards to go, boys!’ she chimed, as they headed quickly towards the place they were about to destroy.”). The atmosphere is chilling, sometimes a bit too chilling for comfort. Miriam is the strong and caring activist you would expect to find in the ruins of French revolution but sadly not today; let us hope we would have someone like her by 2032!

The reader is, thankfully, at times relieved from bearing the burden of the dark and chilly nature of this novel with occasional humorous elements, such as:

“You are stood here today, charged with high treason against the government—and sentenced to death by hanging, drawing and quartering. Do have anything to say before the sentence is carried out?’ the judge and executioner asked. She burnt holes into him. What a stupid question to ask—how the hell can I say anything with this thing on my face? She growled at him as a reply”

Overall, a suitable book for those who liked Oscar’s character in the Underground book.