In a moment near the end of Moses Yuriyvich Mikheyev’s BODIES: A Romantic Bloodbath, the narrator speaks directly to the reader: “You’re probably wondering: ‘What in the actual hell?’”. He couldn’t be more correct: “What in the actual hell?” is something the reader will ask himself several times throughout this chaotic, inconsistent, and somewhat disturbed narrative.
Mikheyev’s third novel begins very well. He introduces Vince Nilsson, a young genius presented as a “deranged romantic”. Unable to accept the end of a relationship, he decides to murder his ex-girlfriend Melissa, get rid of the corpse, and try to create a perfect clone of her – one whose genes are manipulated to love him unconditionally. It sounds simple, but the situation becomes terribly complicated. Soon the young mad scientist has already made dozens of clones of the girl that he uses as sex slaves before killing them and trying again. Friends and police officers who come to investigate the original girl’s disappearance are also killed and replaced, while Vince continues to try to convince himself (and the reader) that he is not killing anyone: “It wasn’t murder if the person was still there still breathing”. Up to this the story is quite original, despite some excesses in the descriptions of sex and violence with a narrative style resembling a bizarre mix of medical/scientific thrillers written by Michael Crichton, Robin Cook and Bret Easton Ellis. However, with a length of over 300 pages, readers may inevitably begin to wonder how far Mikheyev will be able to stretch the surreal situation. And then something strange happens: after 60-70 pages, the narrative suddenly ends and the book begins a “Part Two”, telling a new story almost entirely independent, in which the previous characters will be mentioned very superficially. That is precisely when BODIES starts to become chaotic.
The author introduces new characters and begins to pile up a lot of ideas, not all good. There’s the wife who thinks about killing her husband to replace him with a clone who can relive the fire of passion in their relationship. There’s the boy who falls in love with a girl who’s a clone of a real girl who died, but no one knows that. And there’s a political intrigue in which great world leaders are being replaced by clones. The author addresses very pertinent themes, but he clearly doesn’t know what to do with so many elements. If initially the replacement of humans by perfected clones recalls the basic situation of Jack Finney’s “The Body Snatchers”, Mikheyev soon suggests that his clones also have absurd telepathic powers. The new characters and their different narratives rarely intersect, several secondary situations are totally irrelevant, and the story begins to demand a lot of suspension of disbelief. Near the end, for example, a school shootout kills hundreds of kids and even some central characters. Soon all the dead are cloned and an absurd plan is put in place to make hundreds of people forget that a massacre happened in the first place.
While the hundred or so pages of BODIES: A Romantic Bloodbath is quite original–despite some excessive descriptions of sex and violence—the subsequent pages don’t even try to convey a coherent plot.
~Felipe M. Guerra for IndieReader