When Husam wakes up, he can’t even remember his own name. Even stranger, he’s in a place he’s never seen before—a huge, open room under one of several crystal-clear domes. And when he looks at himself, he realizes he’s about 20 centimeters taller, with the body of a fitness junkie instead of his usual couch potato physique and forgettable looks. Then the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen walks into the room and offers to show him around this strange place. Eventually introducing herself as Malak, she says she can only answer yes or no to his questions; if she were to simply explain where he is and what has happened to him, he could never go back to his own life. Husam insists that he has to return home to take care of his mother and sister, but the amazing world in which he finds himself—and the stunning Malak—is hard to resist. Then, after he has left the room, a stranger tries to kill him by crashing into Husam’s Jet Ski, and later, the mysterious Mr. Khaled tries to poison him. As his near-death experiences become more and more intense, Husam realizes that if he doesn’t figure things out quickly, he may never get the chance. Despite Husam’s overnight transformation—from a short, overweight wimp into a tall, fit action hero who can eat all he wants and have all the expensive toys he longed for—he doesn’t grow or change in a meaningful way. He was rather shallow and rudderless in the old world, and in the new world, though his supercharged brain makes it easy for him to do anything—outplaying Beethoven or out-fighting Bruce Lee, for example—he doesn’t develop the levels of discipline and responsibility needed to manage those skills wisely. Abbas seems to be trying to send a profound message through Husam’s story, but whatever that message is, it’s lost in a blur of heroics and fantasy—not to mention typos and muddled syntax: “I could not tell how much time I spent absorbed into my master piece, it was as if I was in a coma that I awakened from after I was done.”
A blur of self-indulgence and high-tech battles obscures a deeper message.