In this debut novel, the first of a series, told from a variety of shifting viewpoints, a new drug allows people to experience the lives of others.
New York Globe reporter Maxwell Smith longs for a big story that will make him famous. He finds it while taking a walk with his girlfriend, Justine, when a strange man calling himself “a messenger” hands him a baggie full of powder. It’s called “moondust,” he says with a zealot’s fervor, which he claims brings its users closer to God. It turns out that when one drops some of the powder into his or her eye, one is instantly transported into the mind and body of another person from a wide variety of times and places across history—whether it be a whaler in the Azores or a soldier in the trenches of World War I. Justine’s faith is shaken by this discovery, while Maxwell delves deep into New York’s drug-fueled underworld to discover the origins of moondust and write a story about it. This leads him to a gang of “stoners” that includes hip DJ Percival and artsy bombshell Hailey—the makers of moondust who face threats to their enterprise on all sides. The story builds to a big party in which moondust will be revealed to the world for what it actually is—if everything goes according to plan. Osi fills his story with far too many first-person narrators, the majority of whom are indistinguishable from one another due to their tendency to speak in similar shades of purple prose. The worst culprit is Maxwell, who spouts lines such as, “I needed to go into the bleeding heart of the thing, to scrape its arteries and tattoo its blood across the front of America’s newspapers” and “the old libido was a Minotaur in a maze, demanding steady diet.” Fortunately, the concept of moondust is intriguing enough to keep readers turning pages, while the story’s New York setting, dense with insider details about the city’s people and places, shines brighter than any member of the sprawling cast of characters.
A story that’s as messy and colorful as a drug trip.