The Man in the Box by Andrew Toy is about Robbie Lake, a middle-aged man who finds a box that sends him to a fantasy world that he created as a child. When Robbie is fired from his job of 11 years, he is at a loss of what to do next. This comes on the heels of yet another blowout with his teenaged daughter and another cold shoulder encounter with his distant young son. Robbie doesn't know his family and they're not quick to welcome him either after he's fired due to layoffs. Only his wife Rosalynn keeps everything together for him and the family.
When Robbie discovers this "magical" box, he enters a world called Reveloin where he is the long lost "god" that everyone has been waiting for. He is strong and fast and cunning--opposite to how he feels in the real world. Robbie only needs to sit on his throne in Reveloin to take power and reign supreme; if only he didn't have to come back to reality do mundane tasks like apply for jobs and pick the kids up from school.
This was a heart-stopping suspense adventure like I haven't read in a long time. The author does a great job of interfusing light humor with the intense action moments--and there are a lot of them. From battling dinosaurs to ghost-demons, I was always anxious for Robbie and wondered how he would make it out of the danger. Now that is building suspense when you're wondering how a character could ever get out of his predicament even though you know he has to.
Robbie is a likeable character. When I first started the book, I thought that Steve Carell could play this part. However, as the story progressed into more action, I began to wonder. But Robbie's sense of humor at the irony of some of his adventures could still work for Carell as evidenced by the action in the movie Get Smart. However, I'm not saying this book is anything like Get Smart. It is a really original book with relatable characters.
Robbie created this fantasy world as a child. He was the hero in all his whimsical and "safe" adventures, but in his absence the world has become a dark and horrifying place for the characters he created. The more Robbie is drawn into Reveloin, the less he participates in his own reality. His family and responsibilities seem more like a burden to him. But when circumstances make him realize his real life is more important, his characters don't seem to like that idea too much.
As an author, I have found myself lost in the worlds I've created, sacrificing bathroom breaks or even eating to get that much farther into my story. When I have to stop, it does seem like my characters continue to talk to me and call me back. This is the feeling of The Man in the Box.
This is certainly a well-done adventure, suspense with a little fantasy. There are some really interesting concepts in the book that work really well like Robbie's amnesia while in Reveloin. I also appreciate that Robbie asks the questions that the reader wonders about as well.
Be advised that there are some gruesome parts in it, but nothing that lingered enough to stop me from reading. I gave it 4.9 stars out of 5 because there is a comment that offended me toward the beginning of the book. However, I kept reading because the story was so engaging and this was just a passing comment by Larry the security guard that I didn't understand the significance of and thought could have been stricken from the book entirely. With that said, I highly recommend this book.
I was given this ebook as an ARC for an honest and unbiased opinion.