I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
Nate lives in L.A. and has a dead-end minimum wage data entry job. He needs a more affordable place to live, so he's thrilled to learn about the Kavach building. An apartment with all utilities paid, only $565 a month! Yay! Maybe it's so cheap because it's infested with bright green mutant cockroaches. Or maybe something else is going on. Despite threats of eviction from the building manager, Nate and the other Kavach building residents begin exploring the building's many mysteries, which include highly individual apartment layouts, the mysterious padlocked Apartment 14, weird lighting in Nate's kitchen, and more.
I'm not sure what to call 14. Horror, I guess, but it's not the gory or scary kind. It's suspenseful, slightly creepy, and, especially near the end, downright weird. Aspects of the book struck me as being more silly than scary. Even so, it worked really well for me.
I'll just say right now that some of the things Nate and the others did were not things I could imagine real-world people doing. Had I been Nate, I'd have worried more about the possibility of losing my job – it'd be pretty hard to investigate the mysteries of the Kavach building if he couldn't afford to pay his rent. Also, I'd probably have stopped snooping around in the building after learning how dangerous it was. However, had Nate and the others done what I would have done, the story would have been over, and none of us would have learned anything else. So I didn't really mind that they kept doing stupid things.
My favorite thing about this book was waiting to see what else Clines would throw at readers. It took a while to find out anything significant about the building, but the little tidbits of info here and there only made me more excited to find out what Nate and the others were going to learn next. A large chunk of the book was devoted to collecting a list of the building's oddities and then exploring the parts that were hidden away, and I couldn't wait to see how all the pieces fit together.
The characters were distinct and easy to keep track of. Veek and Tim were my favorites, in part because they seemed to have secrets of their own. Veek's iron control over everybody's access to the Internet amused me, and I cheered when Tim instantly shut down one of Andrew's judgmental sermons. I dreaded the book's ending, because I figured this was going to be one of those stories where all or most of the cast dies. Thankfully, although there were a few deaths, 14 managed not to be a complete downer. The ending was an unbelievable stroke of good luck for several of the characters, and maybe a little fluffy, but it left me grinning.
Although the narrator sometimes paused at odd moments, he was usually really good. I liked that his female voices didn't sound all breathy and weak, and the accents he used for Veek (Indian) and Oskar (German) sounded smooth and natural to my ears. All in all, this was a fabulous audiobook, with a story that held my attention all the way through. I should add, though, that it had parts that were not quite appropriate for work-time listening – some swearing and one (not terribly explicit) on-page sex scene.
The author's note that is mentioned in this review is not included in the audiobook version. Just a warning, in case 100% complete texts are important to you.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)