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Book Review: 14 by Peter Clines

My personal Cannarf Scale of ratings is not an absolute measurement of how good or bad you think something is. It’s a subjective measurement from, -10 to +10, of how good or bad it is relative to your expectations of it.

So, for instance, you might see the greatest movie you’ve ever seen, and then give it 0 Cannarfs because it was exactly as good as you expected it to be. Also for instance, you might see a bad movie and give it +3 Cannarfs because you expected it to be worse.

Below, I rate 14 by Peter Clines on this scale.

I’ve been staring at this paragraph, writing and rewriting it, for the better part of two hours (as of this writing). I honestly don’t know how to start this review, so I’ll just start with the elevator pitch for 14:

Down on his luck, broke, and directionless, Nate Tucker moves into an apartment building with impossibly low rent for LA with a great view of Hollywood. As Nate gets to know his neighbors, and as they begin to discover some of the secrets about their building, suddenly questions about why the rent is so low become the least of their worries. The bigger questions are: what is the building, what is actually happening in apartment 14, and can they make it out alive?

Or something like that… Honestly, Peter Clines’ 14 shares the same genre-bending mix of elements that makes the second book in the series, The Fold, hard to classify. Where The Fold delves more into the science side of science fiction, 14 leans more on history and mystery. Neither have especially great characters or world-class prose. But both have their unique and engaging buildups leading to a big reveal and a bonkers third act.

Peter Clines’ 14

Peter Clines 14 cover

14 is the story of Nate Tucker, who moves into the mysterious Kavach Building at the recommendation of a coworker who used to live there. The coworker moved out to get a bigger place with his girlfriend, but also because the building has “kind of got an odd vibe to it.”

That odd vibe is immediately apparent to Nate, along with other oddities like strangely colored cockroaches, an apartment with a padlocked door, and mysterious writing in his own apartment.

The story progresses as the inhabitants of the Kavach Building develop some connections and relationships with each other, and discover that they are all interested in the building’s mysteries. Against the prohibitions of the building’s superintendent, the residents of the Kavach Building begin to research the history of the building and explore its off-limits areas, including the mysterious apartment 14.

Before they realize it, they have stumbled onto a terrifying long-kept secret of immense importance, and must work together to save each other and set things right.

Clines’s Genre Blending Continues to Impress

I’m being purposely vague about plot details in 14, more so than I was in my review of The Fold, because I genuinely don’t want to spoil as much as possible for anyone who might pick up a copy and read it. I found 14 after stumbling across The Fold and loving that book. I sought out more works from Peter Clines and picked it up, not realizing that 14 was actually the first book in what is known as The Threshold Series, The Fold being the second book in that series.

And honestly, I couldn’t be happier that I didn’t know these books were connected before I read 14. I haven’t read anywhere that Peter Clines addresses this directly, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s intentional that the books aren’t published as Threshold Series, Book 1: 14, or The Fold: Threshold Series, Book 2.

I read The Fold completely cold, not knowing a thing about it, and I loved the universe it set up. Then I read 14 completely cold, except for the fact that I knew I liked one other book by Peter Clines, and was thrilled to find myself back in that same universe. This would, of course, have been the case had I read the books in their order of publication, but there was something really great about discovering that I was reading “part 1” after having unintentionally read “part 2.”

All in all, I give 14 a rating of +5 Cannarfs

Like The Fold, the characters don’t always seem fully fleshed out as people, and often make decisions that don’t make sense except to advance the plot. And, despite the fact that you can find quite a few reviews out there that poo-poo the plot, I thought it was pretty good.

As a history nerd, a sci-fi nerd, a horror nerd, and a book nerd, 14 ticks pretty much all of my boxes. Had I known that it was part of the same series as The Fold, I might not have appreciated 14‘s big reveal as much as I did. But, luckily for me, I had no idea, so the big reveal was even better.

If you’re into history, mystery, horror, or sci-fi, then 14 has something for you. Check it out!

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