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    Review of SET THIS HOUSE IN ORDER by Matt Ruff

    HarperCollins, 2003

    Review by Jennifer Vilches

    Andrew is the personality in charge of "driving" the soul-ridden body of Andy Gage. Born from the ashes of Andy Gage's mind, the society of multiple personalities live in a stable arrangement together thanks to a helpful therapist. Andrew is a recently born personality trying to give the body a fairly normal life, starting with a new job at a software company. But Andrew's stability is threatened when his impulsive boss, Julie, hires Penny, another victim of multiple personality disorder. Julie wants Andrew to help Penny tame the chaos in her head. Penny doesn't understand her condition, but some of her other personalities do. Andrew is reluctant to get involved, but Penny's group of protective personas make a plea for help. When his own house of souls collapses under the strain of several shocks, Andrew and Penny end up on a road-trip to confront the past.

    This is one of the best fiction books I've read this year. Ruff's handling of the multiple personalities is both inventive and sensitive. He is straightforward in dealing with the abuse that led to Andrew and Penny's fractured state - it's clearly important, but not sensationalized. In spite of the serious subject matter, Ruff manages to incorporate a good measure of humor into the story. Andrew's journey gives a whole new meaning to "finding yourself." Ruff's excellent characterizations make it easy to root for Andrew, Penny, and their collective internal societies.

    I like that Ruff avoids the trap of a clich├ęd, sappy ending, instead making it clear that there are no easy solutions. Ruff's plot was engrossing in all its twists and turns, and only one late section seemed to jump a bit off the tracks. This is a compelling book that will entertain you even as it makes you think about how we all interact with the world.

    BooksForABuck.com gives only one 5 Star review per year in each category. SET THIS HOUSE IN ORDER is this year's winner in the General Fiction category. Congratulations to Matt Ruff.

    Five Stars

    Reviewed 11/09/04

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