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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
The Syndrome: One Bug, One Bite Will Change Your Life As You Know It by Mark Adkins is a fictional short story that revolves around the seemingly sudden change of child to teenager. Adkins narrates this story from the first-person point of view of a father who is perplexed by the changes occurring within his son and daughter, one to which he applies a metaphor of having been bitten and infected as the trigger for rapid and often inexplicable metamorphosis. Their evolution is rife with physical fights and screaming matches, lying, the downfall of personal hygiene and space, and the blossoming of young lust. The book has a distinct feel to it that smudges the line between fact and fiction as it breaks the fourth wall in a format wherein the narrator is speaking directly to the reader, as if there's a casual conversation occurring over coffee, and often veers into self-help territory as the narrator provides suggestions on how best to handle the changes.
Mark Adkins is a talented writer who is able to inject heavy doses of wit into The Syndrome, and sarcasm galore. The acerbic tone elevates the book from a crowd of similar fodder that is regularly passed off as parental angst but is more a long-winded rant than an actual story. There is a delicate balance between using rancor as a tool to enhance the story and abusing it to the point where it comes off as pretentious. Thankfully, Adkins rests in the former. As the father of a teenage daughter myself, I had more than my fair share of chuckles, particularly as Adkins details a shrewd cleverness in wordplay among the young that can be equal parts infuriating and amusing. For example, he asks his son if his friends were to jump off a bridge would he follow, to which his son asks how high the bridge is. This book is a good bit of fun and I enjoyed reading it.