Fiction - Suspense
258 Pages
Reviewed on 09/10/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Papertown is a work of intense dramatic fiction set in the 1950s and was penned by author Dave Norem. Written for adults due to its violent content and strong language, this novel casts a harsh lens over the tarpaper shanty towns which popped up during the fifties as a result of powerful economic recession. Our central figure is George Rickson, a man with a sense of justice and morality which seemingly has no place in the lawless, insular community of Papertown, where residents dole out punishment and take whatever they see fit from others. As a spate of bodies begins to pile up, however, George knows it is time to take action against the punishers.

This is a novel that readers will become quickly engrossed in, harrowing and brutal though it may be. There was something reminiscent of both George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut in the no-holds-barred harshness of the way of life in Papertown, and the unpicking of human nature down to its most base and cruel forms. What results is a truly compelling tale of a hero made in blood and dirt, but one whose own moral compass is certainly skewed by the harsh times in which he lives. The most violent and brutal moments of the story are shocking, but not indulgent in their graphic qualities, and therefore they deliver all of the pain and hardship of that way of living without becoming gross and ineffective in themselves. Overall, author Dave Norem has created a unique and engrossing read in Papertown, which is highly recommended.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Papertown by Dave Norem is a murder mystery. George Rickson lives with his family on the edge of Papertown. A town of tarpaper shacks, Papertown is full of despair and poverty and George’s life is inextricably wound through the lives of those who live there. He has seen and heard so much from a town where forced squalor leads to drunkenness and violence, where people love and hate equally, where they cheat, lie and steal and mete out their own punishments. When the body of a young girl is found, suspicion creeps through the community and fingers are pointed. And the death toll begins to rise. The people of Papertown have their own way of dealing with theft, murder, and rape and George is about to be drawn even further in.

Papertown by Dave Norem makes for compelling reading. Yes, it is a murder story but there is so much more than that here. This is almost the story of a boy growing up. A boy who could be seen as privileged when compared to his neighbors in Papertown. The story walks us through the ups and downs of George’s life, all the scrapes he gets into, his triumphs and his heartbreaks, how he gets involved in the lives of the Papertown residents and stands up for them at whatever cost to him. Papertown is more than just a town of houses made of tarpaper; it is despair personified.

This is an excellent piece of literature, a story that you can't help but fall into, with characters that are easily identifiable and likable. It’s a story of myriad emotions and it will strike a chord in many hearts. There is plenty of action, it is very descriptive in places and there is always something going on, no matter what page you are on. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a thought-provoking read. This is not your average murder mystery and certainly not your average life.

Tracy Young

Papertown is no place for weakness. George Rickson understands the residents of Papertown have their own moral code and are prepared to fight for it. At the age of eleven, George is faced with a dilemma after witnessing domestic violence of the worst kind. He makes a decision that no adolescent should ever have to even contemplate. Once he has chosen a certain path, this dictates how his future will progress. His mother draws George closer following the death of his sibling, but his father Pete seems to sense there is inner darkness in his son. When a murderer focuses on the community, it is George who will have the last say in the safety of Papertown and its residents. Papertown by Dave Norem is an account of how sex and death play a major part in the early life of George Rickson and the poverty-stricken residents of the shantytown created by the recession.

This is a brutal tale of poverty and oppression. Papertown is a place that signifies the very bottom rung of society in the 1950s. Basic hygiene and simple food are considered luxuries as people try to survive in the harshest conditions. Their moral code is strict, and the punishments meted out are timely. Papertown by Dave Norem is a compelling tale of one boy and his path through adolescence. Are some people naturally born killers or does society fashion them to be that way? Nature or nurture? You decide but George will test your beliefs one way or another. This is a great read and I look forward to hearing more about George Rickson and his adult life.