Cover Image: Scarecrow Has a Gun

Scarecrow Has a Gun

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I wanted to like this, but the writing style was a no from me. I had a really hard time with it. And some of the secondary characters were awful.
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Scarecrow Has a Gun was a complex and intriguing look at the effects of the reliability of our own memories and the domino effect of altering them. There were almost 0 characters that I liked, but that doesn't mean that I didn't thoroughly enjoy the characters and how awful they were as people. It was a gripping and thrilling ride that had me rereading several pages as if my own memory of events might not have been what I recalled.
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If you like a book that deals with the aftermath of a murder that you don't remember by using a piece of technology that allows you to view your memories (every single one of them) as if they were happening right now then this is the book for you.

We joined our protagonist Sean Whittlesea who was there when his wife was murdered. Only to suffer from amnesia never knowing what truly happened and who his wife, Gwen's, killer was. He is then invited by his boss Mr. Ulger to join the Widow's Club in which each meeting you are to play a game where the is only one winner. The winner gets a price and most often becomes really rich after winning the game. 

Nearly two decades later, Sean, who is about to be remarried and a father of two, wins a bizarre contest hosted by his eccentric boss. The prize is the Memory Palace, a state-of-the-art black box that purportedly allows its possessor to relive every moment he has ever experienced, playing out all the memories on a screen.

At first to Sean it is as if all his prayers where answered. He finally has the means to find Gwen's murderer and the closure that he needs. But as the story progresses it shows Sean and the readers that what you remember or what you think you remember is completely different from the real memory stored in your brain. 

We already caught a glimpse of Sean's home life before the Memory Palace came to their lives is that he was already distant with his fiance Hayley, unable to connect with his son Nick, in fact the only person who he was not distant with was his daughter Lucy. But when the Memory Palace came into play, He pushes his family further and further away as the Memory Palace forces him to confront harsh realities and difficult questions that he lacks the strength to face or answer. 

When Gwen's murderer is revealed I thought 'Oh No Sean Killed Her" but really it was someone else. Someone else was in their hotel room the night of the murder and killed Gwen. It was all an elaborate plot by Mr. Ulger because he wanted more members in his Widows Club.

The one good thing about the Memory Palace is that Sean did got the answers that he was looking for and the closure that he needed. Sean finally free of the guilt he felt not remembering who murdered Gwen was finally able to reconnect with Hayley, Nick, and Lucy. Sean was no longer living in the past... He was now living in the present.

Personally though I would not recommend this book because of the writing style. While the premise of the story has promise I found the execution to be unsatisfactory. In the beginning the story was fast paced, but became very dragging in the middle, then fast paced towards the end. One thing for sure is I absolutely loved the ending.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review!

Having previously written four children's books, Michael Paul Kowzlowsky is now publishing his first general adult novel in the form of Scarecrow Has a Gun, a slow-burn thriller with some light science-fiction woven into it. It's basically a cross between Memento and The Final Cut as it follows Sean Whittlesea's quest to recall the circumstances surrounding his wife Gwen's brutal murder from almost two decades ago. The device he's using to help out with this is called the Memory Palace, a black box that stores all of Sean's memories and had been gifted to him by his peculiar boss Mr. Ulger as a reward for a strange challenge of his that Sean had won.

Scarecrow Has a Gun boasts some interesting material, including its Black Mirror-esque tone and its themes on the mutability of memory, our tendency to view our past actions through a rose-colored lenses and absolve ourselves of blame, and the greedy and exploitative nature of capitalism. But its prose can be a slog to process; it's slowly paced, especially with its sluggish second act); it's not much of a mystery, even though it kind of feels like it's supposed to be; and it gives off tinges of misogyny and racism. I'll also say that Sean is a hatable protagonist, but I feel like that's appropriate for a story as somber as this one. As for the denouement, it may leave some unsatisfied, but I like how it emphasizes the importance of making choices in the present.

Overall, Scarecrow Has a Gun has its bright spots, but I wish it could have come out much more strongly and been able to join my list of favorite sci-fi thrillers.
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A wonderful concept with way too much filler. This book would have been perfect if it was shortened down into a short story and put into a collection with a similar theme. I think the author knew what they wanted but had a word count to reach that got in the way. I also was not a fan of the main character. He just didn’t really seem likable. The ending was probably my favorite part.
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I was given an early copy in exchange for an honest review.  This book was different than anything I have ever read before.  First half of the book kept my full attention so as to dare not miss a word. I couldn’t read it fast enough so very good.  However, when I reached about the halfway point. I was loess interested.  Seemed a bit monotonous at this point and had no sympathy when Hayley kicked him out.  The premise, as I understand is to prove our memories aren’t real. They are what we have reimagined for ourselves.  I know my earliest memories are not mine they are what I remember her telling me like losing my first tooth.  I don’t remember my dad asking mother for some dental floss to tie to a doorknob and pulling it that way. In actuality I stood in front of my dad and he wiggled it out.  No tears. My dad had to tightly wrap in a Kleenex my mom didn’t want the tooth fairy to have to touch any teeth either  anyway memory is up to perspective Evan is given a machine that takes him back to his beginning and he sees how it all began for his parents. He used the machine to see how his wife really died.  The police and coroner had cleared Evan he didn’t murder his wife but he doesn’t remember how he came to be holding his wife.. now he can watch on his bosss new  memory video machine..  the technical possibilities are lost on me but overall I find it thought provoking.  I think wee don’t live in the moment much any more.  Kids program we record on our phones as a family later. So we tend to watch the time that passed us by.    Hard book to review for me it isn’t all bad or all good.  You would probably enjoy more than me.. Thanks to #NetGalley #MichaelPaulKodlowsky, #ScarecrowGotAGun for sending and advance copy
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The concept of the story was intriguing.  While Sean Whittlesea seemed like a likable character at the onset, he sheds that like ability once he gets the Memory Palace, a box that reveals memories.  
There are really great parts of the story that pulled me in to the finish.  But the middle lags a bit.  There is enough repetition and unnecessary detail that it felt weighed down.  The end finishes with tidy ends to the main plot, but right at the conclusion, we’re introduced to other technologies that could have played a bigger role during the entire story.  Felt a little chopped up, and maybe a bit more editing would have been beneficial.

It does make you dive a bit deeper into the concept of memories and how our brain’s perception is reality.  It also might drive you to watch Wizard Of Oz again, because after all, “Scarecrow Has A Gun.”  (Guilty)

The narrator of the audiobook did a wonderful job.  He nails the accent, and  really characterized Josie’s nails on chalkboard laugh. 

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an audiobook copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I wanted to like this book so much. The premise sounded intriguing. You have Sean whose wife was murdered. He held her as she took her last breath, but that’s all he can remember. This haunts him. Sean is invited to join the “widowers club” by his boss. The club offers endless possibilities but only if you endure weird games/tests set up by said boss. After years of being a member, Sean finally wins a prize. This prize, the ability to relive memories. Now the beginning was good, I was hooked, but I guess I was expecting more. The ending was ultimately underwhelming for me.
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As someone who worked with a group of Cognitive Scientists who worked in memory research, I was looking forward to reading "Scarecrow Has a Gun". While fiction, I expected to read about characters experiencing pseudo-memory and having it called out, as well as a character coping with having eidetic abilities forced upon him. In short, I was hoping for a better book than "Scarecrow Has a Gun" delivers.

"Scarecrow Has a Gun" needs a strong editor. It's straddling between thriller and science fiction, and an editor specializing in either field would have the story strengthened in either direction and had the page count cut. The primary antagonist would gain some nuances, and the resolution wouldn't be telegraphed to the reader in the first fifty pages.  It's a shame--the memory portion of the concept is sound, but it's overwhelmed by issues that should have been pointed out and fixed.
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I received a copy of this from NetGalley in return for an honest review. 

I really loved the idea of this book. Memory is such an interesting thing because two people can remember the same event completely differently yet neither of them is lying per se. What our memories choose to keep is a mystery. This book really did make me think about what would happen if such an ingrained memory was actually false. There are some really important ones that I think back on and can't imagine not remembering. But can I trust my memory or am I making it better than it actually was? That is the part of this book I loved. Sci-fi hits the nail in the head for me when it can be both entertaining and make me think. It can serve as a jumping off point for contemplation and important questioning, both of which this book did well at. 

Where it started to go downhill for me were the characters. I disliked pretty much every single character in this book. I understand that they were probably written to be unlikeable, however, these characters actions bordered on deplorable. Family drama is something that does not hold my attention well. These sort of family conflicts that dissolve into yelling matches seem whiny and make the characters come off as unhinged. I did not think the main character acted like an adult. His son, who was also quite annoying (but as a teenager I understand it more), seemed like more of an adult than he did. 

He took me out of the aspect of the book I was enjoying. I wanted less life and family drama and more of the actual sci-fi elements. Overall, while I did really enjoy certain things in this book. I found myself wishing it were over sooner than it was. For such a short book, it took me way too long to get through because every time the character threw a hissy fit I had to put it down. And that was just about every other page it seemed like, especially towards the end. While this did bring up some interesting concepts and questions, I did not enjoy it as much as I was hoping to.
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Scarecrow has a gun caught my attention from the time I read the synopsis. As I kept on reading I also kept on thinking about how life's past and our memories shape our future and how what we remember might not necessarily be the truth but our interpretation (taking into account our values, traditions, culture, age, etc) of the truth, or what we were allowed to see. This is not a book that you read and just forget the story, it stays in your memory and is food for thought. 
I downloaded a free copy of this book through NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.
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Sean finally wins a game hosted by his billionaire boss. His prize is a black box that can display the memories of whoever is plugged into it. Sean hopes to finally learn the truth about his wife’s murder - a day he’s can’t seem to remember no matter how hard he tries. Instead, the box sends him down a spiral as he realizes how much he’s misremembered major and minor events of his life. Sean wants to stop, but he can’t bring himself to look away. Not until he sees the murder. 

I seem to share the opinion of the majority of reviews. This premise is extremely interesting. The genre blending of sci-fi and crime/thriller are done well. Part One of this book sucked me in and I was looking forward to an edge-of-the seat experience as I continued. Unfortunately, the rest of the novel slowed down in pace. It was always interesting viewing the memories and reading character interactions, but ranty philosophical conversations would go on for so long and make me lose interest. 

Towards the end, there were some scary moments that would really freak me out (chakra bear, I’m looking at you!). The “plot twist” was something I predicted from the beginning and the ending didn’t necessarily shock me, but it was a satisfying way to finish out this novel. Overall, I didn’t have a great time but I didn’t have a bad time. I’m landing at a solid middle of the road rating for this one. 

Thank you NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Scarecrow Has a Gun successfully combines fantasy and mystery all in one novel. While the narrative tone took some getting used to, the plot surrounding unreliable memories was compelling. It was slow at some parts, but ultimately kept me interested until the end. I hope more mystery/thriller authors decide to include fantasy elements in the future because it was one of my favorite parts of the book.
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Are you looking for a unique book that will hook you almost from the first words on the page?  If you are looking for something that is unique and scary?  Sean Whittlesea wants to remember the night that his wife was killed in front of him.  Enter a unique way to remember events in your life, given to him by his boss.  Will this help him remember, or will it ruin his life?
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This was quite the mental rollercoaster. Right from the start you know something is not adding up, things are slightly off, but you can't yet place your finger on it. Then, when you read on you know for sure something is off, but what exactly? What is reality and what is fiction? Are memories always truthful? And if they're not, are they less valuable?

These are questions you'll most definitely will be thinking about while reading Scarecrow Has a Gun by Michael Paul Kozlowsky. And the novel will leave you wondering, thinking. You'll end it thinking, What did I just read? And in a good way!

The plot of Scarecrow is very original. The genre of the book is hard to define. Some part read like a thriller, some like scifi, others are more of a dystopian novel. That in itself is, of course, not a problem, but it does cause the pace of the story to shift. The thriller like parts make your heart race and cause you to read as quick as you can, but the more dystopian, philosophical parts are slow and from time to time a little too long. But if you find yourself struggling through one of these sections, please keep going, because the end is definitely worth it!!
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I liked the idea of having access to a memory palace and using it to remember things that have been forgotten. Sherlock Holmes came to mind and the brilliance he is able to pull off with his. Scarecrow Has A Gun was an odd enough title to interest me in the plot and how the author might use this concept.

The beginning of the book threw me off; it was unexpected and unbelievable to me. Maybe that was the point because the protagonist’s memory wasn’t the most reliable. I found that I could not relate to him and his logic was so foreign to me that I didn’t really like him.

The plot was interesting enough to keep me reading to see what would happen with memory and how it is experienced. The whole ‘can we ever truly know what we’ve experienced and the lack of control we have over it because of how the brain works’ narrative didn’t cover any new material. 

The book didn’t stick to exploring behavioral psychology and metaphysics. It instead moved on to the isolation, alienation, and mental breakdown Sean experienced as he spent more and more time spelunking in the deep, dark corners of his brain. 

As the story wrapped up I didn’t feel any better about it. Revenge to some brings a sense of satisfaction and resolution. But that’s hard to believe when a person has lost so much in a horrible way for no reason other than the amusement of another.

Thanks to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for an ARC of this book.
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What happens when your memories aren’t what you expect them to be? How do you react? Are accurate memories any better than the editorialized? What is the past when it continues to live with us? 

This book explores the nature of reality and our memories and how both make us who we are today.
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2.5 stars, rounded down
I wanted to like this book so much. The premise is great and there are so many insightful and intriguing thoughts about memory. However, for me, it just didn't get there in a clear enough way to make the book relatable or exciting enough.

Sean's wife was murdered many years before, but he received a head injury at the same time so he has been unable to remember what happened to her and it haunts him. Through his job, he's offered a strange but unique opportunity to possess "The Memory Palace" and view his memories on a television screen, and he is hoping to see what happened to his wife. Yet the more he watches his memories (which appear at random) the more he comes to realize that either they've been tampered with, or that his memory is fallible and he isn't remembering things correctly.

If the book was a bit more straightforward and if Sean was more likable, I would have connected with the experience. But as it is, Sean gets so immersed in the memories that he neglects his actual life, and this seemed to be the case before he even got the Memory Palace. The ending does clear everything up and has decent closure, but I didn't have buy in to the explanation at all and it felt rushed and contrived. There are quite a few things brought up in the course of the book that are never fully explored (like what was up with the boss and his altered appearance?) yet we are treated to endless examination of the nature of memory in different people and how we can cause altered memories in others, etc.

I have see other reviews saying that this would have been much better as a short story and I definitely agree. I can see this as a Twilight Zone-esque story, but only if the extra randomness is left out.

If you like sci-fi with some mystery and can stand slogging through a lot of filler, then you might join the others who have enjoyed it.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

I listened to this book partially as an audiobook, and the narrator was good and kept me invested in the story.
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Previously published using a pseudonym, Michael Paul Kozlowsky’s latest book is Scarecrow Has a Gun. It begins somewhat peculiarly with a company CEO inviting his widowed workers to his office to partake in a contest to suicide. Eventually, Sean wins a different contest and his prize is a black box called the Memory Palace that enables a person’s memories to be seen on a television screen. As he becomes addicted to processing his lost recollections of how his wife’s murder unfolded, Sean becomes increasingly estranged from his family. He becomes so enraptured in his new world of the past that it endangers his own life. An enjoyable concept for a tale that could have been so much more, somewhat disappointing and so a three star read rating. With thanks to Imbrifex Books and the author, for an uncorrected advanced reader copy for review purposes. As always, the opinions herein are totally my own and freely given.
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Unfortunately, I struggled with this one. I really wanted to like this book as I thought the premise was unique. However, it did not hold up to my expectations. I got a little lost in all the minutia and was bored.

The narration held up well although it felt a bit noir for this type of book.

*Thank you NetGalley for advanced copy*
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