Score: 86/100 (8.6 out of 10)
Search for Complete can probably best be described as a mixed-genre, experimental, existential novel by Stephen Hardy. With all that, it's also a mixed bag full of interesting concepts and ideas, some of which land and some of which don't.
The book follows Christopher Dunn, a somewhat androgynous, mostly-masculine, asexual character who wrestles with a torturous dilemma in his life: the inability to form sexual connections with anyone, male or female, despite being both ridiculously handsome and absurdly gorgeous. Christopher is both blessed and cursed as a rare complete being, still carrying both his masculine and feminine halves like some sort of Yin & Yang dyad or a Gemini. It turns out that, in the lore and mythos of this novel, Zeus (from Greek mythology) had been jealous of humanity's early wholeness, so he split humans into males and females, each feeling incomplete and seeking after their missing halves/partners.
Despite being conceptually complete, Christopher seems empty and wanting for something else. For much of this novel—as we'll revisit later—he seems to be almost robotic or a husk of a person. In fact, he seems incomplete and unfinished most of the time, like an uncolored sketch of a human being.
See, despite being sexually uninterested and unattracted, Christopher still longs to be needed. The desire to be needed and for people to be drawn to him seem to be his defining motivations. Another of these motivations is the desire to be emotionally connected with others despite not wanting to have sexual relations with them.
These aspects of Christopher and the novel may be interesting to some readers out there. However, we found Christopher to be very difficult to like and get behind. Again, he almost seems like a robot or an alien most of the time. When people meet and interact with him, it's almost like they're dogs trying to bark up a tree—mere mortals trying to reach a deity who just doesn't seem to fit on the planet Earth. We think we know why that is. See, Christopher is difficult (though not impossible) for 99% of people to relate to. Asexuals make up 1% or less of the human population. For the grand majority of human beings, sex is one of the key motivations in their lives, either consciously or subconsciously. There's a scientific, evolutionary reason for that: those who didn't have sex didn't pass on their genes. The gene pools of asexuals naturally died out. It's really that simple.
With that said, it might be possible for people to relate to Christopher's need to make emotional connections with people like David and Laura despite being different. After all, this is the reason why the Doctor from Doctor Who keeps companions with him. The need for human companionship and the desire to not be alone are themes that play throughout this novel.
We can also sometimes get glimpses into the hurt and pain that Christopher feels. We can tell that the end of his relationship with Gabriel in Seattle was/is something that haunts him. We can tell that friend-zoning and putting off the advances of the likes of David and Laura also hurts him.
Let's talk about friend-zoning for a minute. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Christopher comes across as so frustrating, agitating, aggravating, annoying, and unlikable as a main protagonist—he's in the way of what would typically be “the plot.” In other words, he's in the way of his own arc: his own worse enemy despite being so complete and perfect. He friend-zones pretty much everyone. He's that annoying character in every film, book, or video game that makes it difficult for the main couple(s) to get together, the third wheel, the c***k block, the mother-in-law or obnoxious BFF who rings the doorbell when the lead couple is about to have their first kiss or get it on. The other frustrating thing about him is that, despite friend-zoning everyone, he seems to collect people. This almost makes him come across like some kind of sociopathic villain, even despite him constantly claiming how sensitive he is about others and their feelings.
He's the equivalent of that lead cheerleader in high school who sleeps with, flirts with, and collects all the hot guys in the school so that no one else can have them first.
Now, you could argue that Christopher doesn't intend to do this to people, but consequences are consequences. The results are the results.
Now, you could argue that—unlike our stereotypical lead cheerleader example—Christopher is happy when his admirers go on, date or even marry other people, and find their own happiness. That's fair. However, it doesn't change how frustrating Christopher can be 90% percent of the time.
We don't remember him really showing remorse or shedding a tear until about 80-85% through the novel. That's despite constantly saying how he doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings and doesn't want to lead anyone on. He almost comes across as a Gary Stu-type character.
We felt terrible for David, Laura, and others throughout this book who had to deal with this robotic alien of a human being who brings heartbreak and destruction everywhere he goes like he's Vash the Stampede or something.
He drive, thirst, and hunger for true completion almost made us think he was like Semi-Perfect Cell—again, a villain. His talking to himself/his other half/his voices only convinced us that he was probably schizophrenic, something which the book actually teases and alludes to several times (to its credit). It is also kinda weird how he starts this book off as a fish out of water/new boy in a strange town archetype, then 130 pages or so later he's revealing a ton of information about the novel's lore to a confidant like he's suddenly achieved omniscience and everything he says is gospel. It just makes him seem even more distant and even more like a Gary Stu, which is not likable in the least. Compelling, maybe. Likable? No.
Now, this book does have its bright spots, and we admire its ambition.
Some of the quotes are either interesting or awesome.
Here's probably the key quote in the book:
“Christopher would make the perfect husband for any woman and, at the same time, make the perfect wife for any man.”
Here are some of our favorite quotes:
“...sometimes life needs to be shaken up to help one see things in a new light.”
“It was said that these early creatures' greatest wish was for Hephaestus to solder them to one another again so that their souls could be as one, and they could share in a common fate once more.”
Check it out on Amazon!