A clever premise might get you through the door, but for a novel to truly resonate with an audience, it needs to sustain a sense of momentum from cover to cover. And then, of course, there’s the all-important matter of compelling characters doing something, well, compelling. With LOST ON A PAGE, author David E. Sharp achieves all of the above, offering readers a solid dose of meta-fiction masquerading as a comedic action/adventure romp.
A grizzled detective with a devil-may-care attitude and a penchant for solving tough cases, Joe Slade is blissfully unaware of the cliché his life has become, that is until his latest case seems to solve itself. Upon meeting the mysterious trio responsible for hijacking his investigation, Slade is whisked away to an otherworldly library filled with books about everything and everyone—even Slade. The trio then explain to Slade that they all have something in common: they are merely fictional characters trapped within the pages of their respective novels.
With his reality shattered, an enraged Slade agrees to join forces with his liberators on a quest to confront their authors and take back control of their stories, a quest that takes them to the World Where the Books Are Written. From the planet-hopping sci-fi section to the sultry overtones permeating the romance realm, our intrepid heroes are forced to confront the tired genre tropes that have defined their existence, all the while dealing with the ‘rules’ that govern each world they enter. It’s heady stuff, for sure, but Sharp’s use of consistently witty dialogue gives the whole affair a tongue-in-cheek overtone that, above all else, just works.
On the surface, LOST ON A PAGE is a brisk, action-packed adventure with loads of comedic moments, but the true brilliance here resides in the subtle satirical undertone permeating much of this novel. Be it shifting perspective changes, unpredictable prose, or the use of genre-specific vernacular that accompanies our characters through the various stages of their journey, nearly every element of this wonderfully chaotic story feels like a deliberate choice. A handful of grammatical and formatting errors notwithstanding, LOST ON A PAGE is beautifully written. Sharp has clearly done his homework, and the Colorado-based author’s lifelong love affair with literature practically drips from the page.
There’s always a risk whenever an author attempts to combine numerous disparate elements into a single, cohesive story. After all, it’s one thing to dangle loose threads, but delivering a sense of resolve is another thing altogether. In this regard, Sharp succeeds. LOST ON A PAGE offers readers a wholly realized narrative, complete with a thrilling third-act twist. Regardless of where one falls on the details, LOST ON A PAGE is an undeniably unique offering, one that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Combining a unique premise with a clever, twist-laden plot, David E. Sharp’s LOST ON A PAGE serves as both a satirical examination of the idea of agency and an ode to the art of writing.
~James Weiskittel for IndieReader