Review: The Norma Gene by M. E. Roufa


Publisher: Biting Duck

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9781938463419 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.4/5


Publisher Description: Abe Finkelstein is an illegal clone of Abraham Lincoln – not an easy thing to keep secret when your face is on money. Norma Greenberg, one of the world’s many Marilyn Monroe clones, is wrestling with identity issues of a different sort. It’s not easy living as a perfect copy of the beautiful Norma Jean Baker! When Abe is kidnapped by government agents eager to discover the secrets of his illustrious ancestor, Norma could be Abe’s last hope of escape – or thanks to her barely suppressed kleptomania, his worst chance of recapture. With only their wits, a cigarette lighter, a bottle of perfume, and the disembodied arm of Richard Millhouse Nixon (don’t ask), can Abe and Norma make it back to safety and anonymity?

 Review: As Peter Griffin once said “It insists upon itself”. There are pages and pages of glib filler where the author tries to be funny about the mundane. It is akin to Still life with Woodpecker meets Hitchhikers Guide  and had an ugly baby named the Norma Gene. Most every instant is this verbose and lengthy attempt at witticism of the dry and/or crass kind. The story-line is sacrificed for the sake of ego where trying to be constantly funny assumes a dominant role in the novel over story line and character development.

Abe meets Norma Jean in a fender bender at the beginning of the book and eventually hook up when Abe is on the run at about the 80% mark. So really, most of the novel does not embody those two characters interacting in any meaningful way as the publisher would have you believe in the description. That may have made this an interesting read as the forced interaction between two significant people in history may have shunted the pages and pages of inane descriptive commentary to a tolerable level.

The story-line had good pace, if you can filter out the pages and pages of “witty” filler. I used my page flipping editor (finger) until quotes appear, signaling that the conversation has picked up again.  The characters were interesting up until they are derailed (sabotaged) by social commentary, body typing (he looks like a frog, she looks like a nerd etc.) and “Everyone look how funny I am….does that mean I am smart??”.  If you have a lot of time on your hands and have no expectations other than mild entertainment, get this. And good luck with that “Hillary”.


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