“The Skin of a Teenage Boy Is Not Alive” by Senaa Ahmad
Reviewed by Mike Wyant Jr.
“The Skin of a Teenage Boy Is Not Alive” by Senaa Ahmad is a hauntingly beautiful story of teenage angst and discontent. Generally, it follows Parveen and the semester before high school graduation when the demon cult kids manage to get one of their classmates possessed.
The story can be a bit confusing at times as Ahmad hops heads, and timelines, often. In one scene we see Benny get possessed, then the demon throws them from the roof. Immediately after that, Ahmad is discussing the cult kids growing up, getting old, etc.
The uniting theme I see here is in the parallels between Parveen and the demon. Both want the same thing, freedom, and are driven by similar emotions and needs, which, the demon irritably notes, is why he keeps getting summoned by teenagers.
Overall, a really interesting tale with some fantastic description and metaphor usage. Even if you can’t catch the storyline, it’s worth reading solely for Ahmad’s descriptive talent.
Kurt Fawver‘s “The Bleeding Maze: A Visitor’s Guide” is an interesting story. The unnamed narrator tells about an unbreakable, terrifying maze in their town, a maze they send their kids into when they get old enough. From there, it digs into a series of firsthand accounts, some good, some horrific, from various citizens.
There’s definitely a decent amount here to like, but I wasn’t particularly wooed by the format. I think I’d have enjoyed a deeper dive into one of these trips into the maze rather than the detached way they were presented, almost like a reporter writing a story. Fawver tries to capture some of that tension at the end, but I don’t think it was successful. Great ideas, but the execution wasn’t quite there for me.
Mike Wyant, Jr. is an ex-IT guy, who has finally committed to a writing life out in the Middle of Nowhere, New York.