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How to Disappear Completely by Nicholas Sheppard

A contemporary novel set in America, this is a novel that asks the question, is a monster born or bred? It follows the story of two men. One is a college dropout, a young man full of grievances who is increasingly isolated from others in society. The other is Clayton, an admirable, caring social worker, who is the only one to see the warning signs, but he is overworked and may not be in a position that is powerful enough to stop the course this novel seems to be on…one of mass violence, that we see regularly when we turn on our TVs.

How to Disappear Completely is a complex, challenging novel that doesn’t shy away from exploring the multiple factors that may contribute to a young man becoming a perpetrator of mass violence.

Nicholas Sheppard has clearly done much research into this confronting topic, but thankfully he has crafted a novel that is warmer and more approachable than this topic might suggest. This is in part due to the nuanced character of Clayton, a man striving to do his best for others, a person you can connect with emotionally. But the author also creates a complex ‘monster’, the central young man of the story (who is only named at the end), as we learn of his spiralling thoughts and actions.

How to Disappear Completely is a sobering, insightful, thought-provoking read, and I hope it will start a discussion about what society can do in the future to stop young men from going down this pathway of violence, and how we can possibly intervene with these individuals before it is too late, and set them on another, much more, positive pathway in their lives.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Euonia Publishing


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