Written very much in the style of S.G. Browne’s debut novel Breathers, Fated is a light, comedic novel that follows Fate (yes, the literal incarnation of the abstract force). Growing bored of assigning fates to the majority of humans for thousands of years, he soon finds himself falling for a mortal girl—which, of course, is absolutely forbidden for an immortal entity like himself. It isn’t long before Fate realizes that his affections could have drastic implications for the entire human race.
An intriguing premise
I love the concept at the heart of Fated. Nearly every character in the book is an immortal entity like Fate: Sloth, Gluttony, Love, Ego, Guilt, Wisdom, Temptation, Karma, and so on. It’s a massive cast of characters (although most of them have relatively minor roles), and every one of them has their own little quirks and idiosyncrasies that work to either complement or oppose the roles they fulfill—Death, for example, wears mortician’s gloves and a particle mask, and Truth is a kleptomaniac. With Fate himself the star of the book, this is a premise that drew me in right away.
A snarky first person narrative
Fated relies quite heavily upon the first person narrative of its protagonist, who has an incredibly cynical view of humanity; his job, after all, does require him to deal with the portion of humanity which never amounts to anything great (in the world of Fated, the ones who do amount to greatness belong in Destiny’s realm). As such, Fate spends most of the book delivering snarky criticisms of humanity, and this is where most of the book’s humor comes from. It’s amusing for the most part and is entertaining enough, but Browne tends to fall back on the same jokes over and over, few of which are particularly funny.
Fated’s first person narrative works, but after a couple hundred pages, it becomes tiresome. Furthermore, Fated contains a near-overload of references to real restaurants, stores, and products. They work effectively in the context of the book, but even a few mere years after its release, Fated is already starting to feel slightly dated. This is an issue that will likely cause the book to become more and more alienating to readers as time goes on.
With such an intriguing cast of characters, it’s obvious that a story like Fated would have a lot of potential. Unfortunately, Browne fails to fulfill this potential. Most of the book’s immortal cast are relegated to their defining quirks, failing to become the fully-developed characters that they could’ve been, and end up being nothing more than one-note jokes. However, there was one aspect of Fated that bothered me even more: Sara, the mortal girl that Fate falls for. She exemplifies the “beautiful-mystery-girl-who-instantly-falls-in-love-with-the-protagonist” trope perfectly, and she’s never allotted an ounce of character development (considering she’s the only non-immortal major character in the novel, this is especially annoying). If Sara had been an actual character and not just a cardboard cutout pasted into the novel, I likely would’ve had a much higher opinion of Fated; this is the most significant issue with the novel.
Fated also relies quite heavily on a few last-minute plot twists, and your overall opinion of the book will likely depend on whether these twists work for you. For me, they didn’t. It’s not that the twists in and of themselves are bad, it’s simply that after hundreds of pages of buildup, they didn’t quite deliver the punch that they needed to. I do think it would’ve worked much better in a shorter format; the story could’ve been told in less than a hundred pages with just as much, if not more, effectiveness. In fact, if Fated had been a short story rather than a novel, I believe it would’ve been quite good. This is just a matter of personal taste, however; Fated may work better for some readers than for others.
Why should you read this book?
Although Fated has some major problems, there are aspects of the book that I genuinely liked. The premise is fantastic, Fate’s first person narrative is entertaining and has some truly funny moments, and even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the final twists, their audacity and ingenuity were refreshing. If you’re looking for a light read with some interesting ideas, Fated is a fine choice.