Full disclosure, I was provided a copy of this book by the author or their representative, however, have voluntarily chosen to write a review. All opinions are my own.
When ordinary meets extraordinary
Becoming Buddha by author Corey Croft is the story about what happens when a painfully average guy meets an intriguing and charismatic man shrouded with a hint of danger. In fact, the main character of the story is so nondescript that the author did not even provide the character with a name. As the story is written mainly from the perspective of the nameless lead it took me most of the book to realize that they were unnamed. This was intriguing but not too bothersome as Croft uses this to show you that, we’ll call him “Joe”, can be anyone anywhere. From his humble beginnings in a cookie-cutter restaurant bar, then ‘moving up’ into bank teller land Joe still feels like he’s missing out but cannot put his finger on what he needs to do. After picking up and moving to Paris to pursue his dream, his path continually crosses with Alex. From a chance meeting on a train to more deliberate interactions, Alex and Joe quickly become friends and Joe becomes enamored with the coolest person he has ever met. But the more the duo spends time together the more Alex’s dark side starts to emerge. From seemingly innocent comments to the places the pair frequent, Alex is skillfully introducing Joe into his realm and those who inhabit it. Before Joe realizes it, Alex is becoming the center of his world, but when that position becomes threatened, Alex’s darkness reaches an apex, and Joe is left to navigate the fallout.
I will admit that it took me longer than normal to read Becoming Buddha, but that wasn’t because the story was uninteresting. Quite the opposite! In the simplicity of an “average Joe” attempting to navigate his life, Croft created a story with an easy-to-follow timeline and cast of characters. As Joe lives through each season in his life, it was easy to relate to his struggles and when he decides to make the jump to Paris, I found myself living vicariously through him. Once Alex enters the picture, I found myself looking forward to his scenes. Portrayed as an endlessly cool and enigmatic man of the world he is everything Joe is not and many things he wants to be. The latter half of the story picks up in pace as Joe begins to figure Alex out, but what he discovers is unnerving at best and terrifying at worst.
The author has specifically requested that Becoming Buddha not be described as a “coming of age” novel and I wholeheartedly agree, as this is more a story of self-discovery and survival than it is anything else. For anyone who likes stories that are psychological slow burns with an insane plot twist that will have you looking back and thinking “whoa!” Becoming Buddha would be a great book for you.