There’s a delicate balance between mental health and mental illness…
Who are STRANGERS AMONG US?
We are your fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and lovers. We staff your stores, cross your streets, and study in your schools, invisible among you. We are your outcasts and underdogs, and often, your unsung heroes.
Nineteen science fiction and fantasy authors tackle the division between mental health and mental illness; how the interplay between our minds’ quirks and the diverse societies and cultures we live in can set us apart, or must be concealed, or become unlikely strengths.
We find troubles with Irish fay, a North Korean cosmonaut’s fear of flying, an aging maid dealing with politics of revenge, a mute boy and an army of darkness, a sister reaching out at the edge of a black hole, the dog and the sleepwalker, and many more.
When I originally requested this book through Netgalley, it was because it featured Kelley Armstrong and I’m a huge fan of her work. However, the great things about these kinds of anthologies is that there are several phenomenal pieces beyond that of just the author that caught your attention.
What I took away from these stories is that sometimes the only true strangers in our lives are ourselves. In fact, there are a lot of thought provoking tales that will help to peak your interest. Some of the stories can be difficult to get invested in, or at least up until the point where you get that “aha” moment. But others will leaving you pondering exactly what happened. They touch upon the difference between true reality and that of one’s own belief. There is an undertone of acceptance and understanding for mental illness and how it can affect the world around you. For example, in one where a sister is haunted by the ghost of her living sister, the other sister eventually theorizes that perhaps we all experience our own entrance into a black hole as we meet our end and how these black holes are responsible for creating ghosts.
One of the best examples of this is The Culling, in which the world has begun to die. As time goes on, less food and water is available. In order to ensure there is enough for everyone who is living, there is a yearly culling. First, they began with those who were sickly or physical disabled. Then those who have a physical deformity and then to those with psychological issues. I suppose this was a intriguing story, because in truth, it reminded me of Martin Niemöller’a poem of “First they came for…” But the other thing that intrigued me was the ending. It reminded me of the ending of The Giver, in which you can really infer your own opinion of what truly happens. While it might seem obvious to one reader, another might interpret it differently. Either way, it was thought provoking and as the first story featured in this anthology, it really set the tone for the rest of the book.
A book like this is perfect for anyone because it offers a wide variety of stories. Some feature paranormal or fantastical themes. Some dystopian. Some science fiction. Perhaps you like an underdog story. Or maybe you’re a fan of a story that will keep you thinking after it’s over. And yet, all of them are interesting and though I can’t guarantee you will like or enjoy all of them, I do believe you will be able to find at least one story that you will enjoy, if not more. I highly recommend this as a must read.
Reviewer’s note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.