Inside a Silver Box by Walter Mosley

Heldig, my most evil cat.
Heldig, my most evil cat.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!).

Narrator: Dion Graham

Publisher: HighBridge (2015)

Length: 6 hours 54 minutes

Author’s Page

Ronnie Bottoms and Lorraine Fell crash together in just the right place to activate the Silver Box, a box that the Laz (an alien race) placed on the Earth long before humans and which contains & constrains the last of a most powerful and destructive sentient force. Together, they struggle to contain what they inadvertently have set loose in order to save the entire planet.

I don’t like this book and I really did want to like this book. It is my first Walter Mosley book and I have heard great things about his work. HighBridge Audio is a quality publisher and the narrator, Dion Graham, is awesome. The cover art is intriguing. The story itself was a clash of themes and ideas that never melded into a coherent plot line. Quite frankly, I was bored with it.

First, Ronnie is a serial mugger and rapist. He has been in and out of prison much of his adult life. He ‘meets’ Lorraine in a New York City park when he attempts to mug and rape her. She fights back and he reacts harshly, killing her. This all happens in an area that is full of small boulders and large rocks and is right over the resting place of the Silver Box. Once Lorraine is dead, the Silver Box preserves her consciousness and this allows her to take over other bodies and eventually get Ronnie to return to the scene of the crime. At that point, using the power of the Silver Box, he has the greatest orgasmic experience of his life in bringing Lorraine’s dead, bloated corpse back to life, and in fine shape.

So we get all that very early on in the book. Ronnie and Lorraine have now become our heroes set on saving the Earth. They have been set upon a quest and given special powers. And they decide they need to visit family, friends, and folks from their past in order to hash some stuff out. Uh… wasn’t there a time limit for their quest? I kept waiting for the story to veer back towards the cool scifi part that involves aliens and saving the Earth. That is almost completely sidelined until the very end, which is hugely anticlimactic and not satisfying at all.

Next, Ronnie is now one of our heroes. Mr. Serial Rapist is going to save the Earth. He has completely turned over a new leaf (in record time from one scene to the next) and now sees that all those horrible things he did were wrong. He no longer has all the anger and hunger inside. So he digs up an old teacher to chat about the old days, stumbles into an old girlfriend, and crashes at Lorraine’s swanky uptown penthouse, complete with weekly maid service. He never visits his victims to redress his past ill deeds. I had a hard time routing for him because of his past bad behavior and also because he is not being very proactive in saving the world.

Lorraine wasn’t much better. She comes from a privileged family and she has to struggle with realizing that turning your head and looking the other way is wrong, especially when you have the power and money to make a difference. She has a shouting match with her parents, who threaten to stop making payments on her penthouse. So, Lorraine doesn’t work and isn’t paying for her upkeep at all, and that doesn’t change by the end of the book. I found her character to be boring because her circumstances didn’t change, so her behavior didn’t have to change much either.

Lastly, there is sex, and then there isn’t. Ronnie initially attempts to rape Lorraine, and once she returns to the land of the living, she has some choice words to say to him about that. But then they get super powers and there are 2 scenes in the book where they kind of have sex. And yet they think of each other as akin to siblings since the Silver Box changed them. So that added a yuck factor to their sexytimes, plus that whole attempted rape thing starting off their acquaintance.

So with all that, I had this feeling that perhaps the author was attempting to mash together opposing themes that would intentionally make the reader uncomfortable. Yes, I left this book feeling like I had been put through some kind of social experiment and then tossed out the back door with my meager compensation for my time – the pleasure of writing up this review.

The Narration: While I didn’t care for this book, Dion Graham was an amazing narrator. His voice is deep and smooth and a joy to listen to. He had dialects for the various New Yorkers and a range of male and female voices. The audio production was excellent.  

What I Liked: Excellent narration; cool cover art.

What I Disliked: I never connected with the main characters; the cool scifi element took a back seat to the boring philosophy lesson on good and evil; the ending was supremely anticlimactic and totally unsatisfying; very awkward sexytimes.

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