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A man without a name who called himself Pan wanted something more, something better. For as long as he could remember, something or someone was calling to him, draining him, making him hungry, making him strive for more, more of everything. Living the life and pursuing the happiness, Pan lived the "American Dream". Like so many cheerleaders, Pan worked hard to climb the la A man without a name who called himself Pan wanted something more, something better. For as long as he could remember, something or someone was calling to him, draining him, making him hungry, making him strive for more, more of everything. Living the life and pursuing the happiness, Pan lived the "American Dream". Like so many cheerleaders, Pan worked hard to climb the ladder and he bought almost everything that "they" sold. Avoiding the questions and numbing the pain, Pan turned to drink and did drugs, he listened to loud music and had meaningless sex. He was a true consumer and a glutton until all the hedonism and all the materialism could no longer fill the void and help fulfill his life, his liberty and his pursuit of happiness. The sports cars and white picket fences of the picturesque dream were now blurry and misshapen. His dream was shattered and the cracks revealed. Now he waits and watches and fears for the future that he knows is so near. Living in the shadows and preparing for tomorrow, he hopes that he is wrong, but knows that he is right.


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A man without a name who called himself Pan wanted something more, something better. For as long as he could remember, something or someone was calling to him, draining him, making him hungry, making him strive for more, more of everything. Living the life and pursuing the happiness, Pan lived the "American Dream". Like so many cheerleaders, Pan worked hard to climb the la A man without a name who called himself Pan wanted something more, something better. For as long as he could remember, something or someone was calling to him, draining him, making him hungry, making him strive for more, more of everything. Living the life and pursuing the happiness, Pan lived the "American Dream". Like so many cheerleaders, Pan worked hard to climb the ladder and he bought almost everything that "they" sold. Avoiding the questions and numbing the pain, Pan turned to drink and did drugs, he listened to loud music and had meaningless sex. He was a true consumer and a glutton until all the hedonism and all the materialism could no longer fill the void and help fulfill his life, his liberty and his pursuit of happiness. The sports cars and white picket fences of the picturesque dream were now blurry and misshapen. His dream was shattered and the cracks revealed. Now he waits and watches and fears for the future that he knows is so near. Living in the shadows and preparing for tomorrow, he hopes that he is wrong, but knows that he is right.

30 review for Off the Grid: The Catalyst

  1. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    I received and ARC of OFF THE GRID THE CATALYST from the author BRIAN COURTNEY. In exchange for an honest opinion. This is Mismousey's very honest of his book. Brian Courtney is brand new author and this is his very first book.That being said- he has done such an magnificent job with bringing pen to paper in OFF THE GRID. Never have I read such a story as this one. Mr. Courtney has brought such a thought provoking and deep subject into his story line.The way in which he describes he subjects/cha I received and ARC of OFF THE GRID THE CATALYST from the author BRIAN COURTNEY. In exchange for an honest opinion. This is Mismousey's very honest of his book. Brian Courtney is brand new author and this is his very first book.That being said- he has done such an magnificent job with bringing pen to paper in OFF THE GRID. Never have I read such a story as this one. Mr. Courtney has brought such a thought provoking and deep subject into his story line.The way in which he describes he subjects/characters and the scenes are truly amazing. You are able to actually get to feel the emotions of each characters as they are going them. Mr. Courtney talks about drugs-drinking-government-god- the devil-women-and running away in this book. He also speaks about wanting to"WHY" to certain questions. The main character is a man by the name of Pan - this is a nickname that started in school and has stayed with him. so much so that he has a fake id with the name of Pan a Mc Candless on it.Now Pan doesn't really have any friends and he is hard to get to know. In his previous life he worn a suit and tie and sold computer, software and such. Now- he just gets by. He hides his money and hangs out at a bar . Sleeps with a women above the bar. He remembers parts of his childhood with his mother. When he washed rocks and tried to sell them for money. No one bought them - but his mother did help come up idea on making some money. Pan was into drinking and drugs heavy. He loved his women and sex. He couldn't get enough. When he was younger and going to school. He always asked the "why" and his teachers came back with " because I said so" Could you imagine that. ( but isn't that what we tell our children today? it makes you think) When a large women was speaking of going to hell one day for being proud of themselves and their accomplishments. Pan yelled at her and told her that no they don't go to hell for being proud, envious or angry or for being lazy, greedy or lustful.People should be proud of themselves and their accomplishments, envy and jealousy are natural and drive people to do better, and anger is completely normal because everyone gets angry. All seven of these feelings are inherent and very necessary Pan has a good insight on how and why one would go to hell. Now all his life Pan has suffered depression, trouble with authority,and distrust of everyone. He lives a very complex life. Pan lives off the grid. No record of him or his where about. Just the way he likes it. I recommend this book to all readers. I found it very interesting and really enjoyed reading it. MisMousey looks forward to reading more of Brian Courtney books in the future. And I have to say "Thank you for allowing me to read your amazing -fantastic-very thought provoking- and terrific read. You are in deed a talented author !! Mismousey gives this book a 50 out 5 stars. SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR ?? RUN AND GET YOUR COPY TODAY AND GO OFF THE GRID FOR AWHILE AND READ IT!! GET IT NOW!!!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ian Miller

    The book follows the early life of Pan. Pan is not his name, but rather it is a nickname, and Pan has opted out of a normal life, and rather has adopted a life in which he revolts against most of what is going on in modern America. In one sense it is a polemic against the society in modern America, and in this sense it is a little like the writing of Kafka. It is a sequence of incidents that show up something, such as police brutality, but Pan is also not exactly an innocent citizen. There is no The book follows the early life of Pan. Pan is not his name, but rather it is a nickname, and Pan has opted out of a normal life, and rather has adopted a life in which he revolts against most of what is going on in modern America. In one sense it is a polemic against the society in modern America, and in this sense it is a little like the writing of Kafka. It is a sequence of incidents that show up something, such as police brutality, but Pan is also not exactly an innocent citizen. There is not a lot of plot that goes anywhere for most of the book, although there is a change at the end, which must remain unspoilt. The author shows some good descriptions, and while not a lot advances, the writing maintains interest. The style has a lot of tell, and this is done quite well. The language at times is somewhat crude, and, as they say, "Language may offend; discretion is required." I have one significant criticism regarding the editing, and this lost one star in my assessment. The punctuation and formatting around speech is poor, and at times I could not work out, without re-reading and guessing, who was talking, or even if anyone was talking. The convention of using new paragraphs for a change of speaker is not always followed. The book will be of interest to some, but will offend others; however it is not boring.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Grady

    `Pan was passionate about life and disgusted by it in the same breath; he is seething hatred and undying love.' Brian Courtney is a new author - and more than that we know very little. No biographical data is offered to gain insight into him or his reason for writing this novel, but it doesn't take long into this verbiage to figure out that this is a modern day Catcher in the Rye or some other predecessor that walks that thin thread of accepting society (aka The Institution) in all its gruesome s `Pan was passionate about life and disgusted by it in the same breath; he is seething hatred and undying love.' Brian Courtney is a new author - and more than that we know very little. No biographical data is offered to gain insight into him or his reason for writing this novel, but it doesn't take long into this verbiage to figure out that this is a modern day Catcher in the Rye or some other predecessor that walks that thin thread of accepting society (aka The Institution) in all its gruesome status or stepping off the grid into a world of excesses or at least one that is malleable to one's own needs to be an acceptable place - or not.... Brian creates Pan (not unlike the goateed mythological figure allied with carnal excess - good and evil, attractive and disgusting, loyal and vengeful) - and the brief synopsis tells us why: `A man without a name who called himself Pan wanted something more, something better. For as long as he could remember, something or someone was gnawing at him, calling him, draining him, making him hungry, making him strive for more, more of everything. Living the life and pursuing the happiness, Pan lived the "American Dream". Like so many cheerleaders, Pan worked hard to climb the ladder and he bought almost everything that "they" sold. Avoiding the questions and numbing the pain, Pan turned to drink and did drugs, he listened to loud music and had meaningless sex. He was a true consumer and a glutton until all the hedonism and all the materialism could no longer fill the void and help fulfill his life, his liberty and his pursuit of happiness. The sports cars and white picket fences of the picturesque dream were now blurry and misshapen. His dream was shattered and the cracks revealed. Now he waits and watches and fears for the future that he knows is so near. Living in the shadows and preparing for tomorrow, he hopes that he is wrong, but knows that he is right.' Brian's way with words climbs inside this alternative mind and makes us understand Pan a bit better: `The unremembered dreams, distorted images and vague flickers of light and dark had cursed him all of his sleeping life. He never knew why and couldn't ever recall who or what was haunting him. While he was awake a different nightmare occurred, living. Between the dreams at night and life in general he was an insomniac. Bouts of depression, problems with authority, distrust of everyone, extreme cynicism and an eternal question to which there was most likely no answer were his curses. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Like so many people he was dissatisfied. Unlike most he chose to go against the grain. Schools tried to condition him with a single way to do things, churches tried to cleanse him, shrinks tried to drug him, police tried to beat him, but they were all ultimately trying to conform him. He always asked "Why?" to everyone about everything. The first response was always, `Because I said so. That's why." His preachers, teachers, cops, and judges all answered this way. Regardless of who gave the answer, simply agreeing was never his forte. He was never intimidated by authority, despite how real it actually was, so a second "why" always followed. Their response was usually an unknown look of confusion with the befuddled, stuttering utterance, "Wha, wha what do you mean?" which was always prior to a blank stare and then followed by some more bullshit. Any answer he received was rarely complete or accurate, and never to his satisfaction. He was on his own, the sole searcher, searching for his soul, for his place, for his duty.' Brian also tosses some arrows at contemporary society: ``It doesn't matter if you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Native American, Hindu or Buddhist. It is the words of a man, not a God or a spirit telling you how to live. Pan decided the fear of God and the rewards given by a God were just control mechanisms designed to guide people on how to act within society. No matter which religion you choose they tell stories about great rewards and horrendous punishments. Do this or else. Do this and...Heaven or Hell was never a question in Pan's mind. He always figured that if there were actually an afterlife then he was most likely going to burn for eternity.' So here we have the life (or a segment of one, suggesting we may see further development following this book's release) written by a contemporary philosopher cum writer who has a lot to say, creates some very raw language eminently suitable to Pan, and leads us down a trail of life as it is and as it could be. For a first novel this is an important work. Where he goes from here is almost as fascinating a conjecture as the one that Pan poses throughout this new book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    **I received this book as a free review copy courtesy of Brian Courtney.** Let's begin by saying that Off the Grid is not a book that I would normally pick up. Not because I don't like it or am not interested in it, but because I just don't seem to come across many books that are quite like this. So for me, this was a surprise, blind read that I decided to dive into; it was certainly an adventure. Off the Grid is a tremendously idea-heavy novel from first-time author Brian Courtney that really cre **I received this book as a free review copy courtesy of Brian Courtney.** Let's begin by saying that Off the Grid is not a book that I would normally pick up. Not because I don't like it or am not interested in it, but because I just don't seem to come across many books that are quite like this. So for me, this was a surprise, blind read that I decided to dive into; it was certainly an adventure. Off the Grid is a tremendously idea-heavy novel from first-time author Brian Courtney that really creates some though thought-provoking action and ideas. I would describe Courtney's writing style as somewhat loose, with minor hints of steam-of-consciousness. He's extremely blunt, which is very attractive and fitting with this particular novel, as it reflects both the personality of the main character, Pan McCandless, and the theme of the novel itself. Pan does not shy away from things, and neither does the story. This book follows the notion of the 'outsider' who doesn't quite follow or accept the accepted norms of society. Pan lives on the edge and sees right through 'The Institution' and it's 'goodness.' The Institutions embodies a very 'Big Brother'-esque vibe that gives you those slight chills that travel straight to your core. It's one of those silently terrifying ideas that aren't openly scary, but that has strong implications for the future of society. From the start, I could tell that Courtney has a very specific and unique writing style. He can be extremely expansive, elaborating on parts that he feels are important and worthwhile to the story, but also rather short, keeping areas that aren't as crucial to the minimum. He knows what he wants to focus on, and that is important in every successful novel. He doesn't fret around with unnecessary information, but rather gets yo to the point. The way in which Courtney describes Pan is, quite honestly, rather beautiful. I was enraptured in his descriptions, which contained sharp contrast and juxtaposition. By using such contrasting words and ideas, Courtney is able to really capture the essence of Pan, as well the tone of the novel. Pan is one of those characters that you can't help but like. He's not someone that you should necessarily like if you knew him in person, and he's definitely not described in a perfect manner; yet. something draws you to him. There is something about Pan that you can't quite put down and walk away from. He is an extremely focused individual who knows what he wants and what he believes, and he i not about to let anyone else tell him otherwise. He does not back down at confrontation; instead, he seems to embrace it. It's hard for me to describe my opinion on the pacing of this book. On the one hand, I feel like too much happened too soon. We were thrown into too many situations, too many ideas, and too many characters and events very prematurely. On the other hand, the fast-paced plot seems to fit really well. This is a fast-paced novel - it keeps you going, thus the importance of a fast-paced plot. Ultimately, I think it's up to the individual reader to decide if it a pace they enjoy or not. Overall, this novel poses very important and interesting themes. I give Courtney a big 'hats-off' for so deftly tackling such a heavy and important topic. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this novel, and I've been debating between three and four stars for a while, Ultimately, I am going to give it four stars for being such a strong, passionate book that tells a rather chilling and important story. I can see how this book may not be for everyone, but I would recommend readers to pick it up and give it a try - you might just love it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Author Brian Courtney has a very poetic style to his narration, very abstract and detailed at the same time (which seems like an oxymoronic description, but it fits this book completely). It brought back memories of reading high school required reading of authors from the 1920’s and modern american writers—they choose to focus on the most seemingly insignificant details that leaves you questioning what you just read, until it all comes together at the most unexpected time. This is a mark of a st Author Brian Courtney has a very poetic style to his narration, very abstract and detailed at the same time (which seems like an oxymoronic description, but it fits this book completely). It brought back memories of reading high school required reading of authors from the 1920’s and modern american writers—they choose to focus on the most seemingly insignificant details that leaves you questioning what you just read, until it all comes together at the most unexpected time. This is a mark of a strong writer, one who has planned an entire story and then goes back to add in things to make it even stronger. And it completely works. “Off the Grid” is about a mysterious character named Pan, who is "passionate about life and disgusted by it in the same breath; he is seething hatred and undying love. He is the optimist and the pessimist, the introvert and the extrovert, reclusive and gregarious, good and evil, and light and dark” (see about the oxymorons? it’s just too beautiful of writing to not quote). Pan is the ultimate anti-hero who we care about anyway, resembling Gatsby and Holden Caulfield, and the frequent partaker of the good ol’ "drug, sex, and rock n roll”. But, like Gatsby and Caulfield, he has so much depth and insight hidden inside of him, and I loved reading it unfold before me. This book deals with government, paranoia, self-sufficiency, and brings up a lot of similarities to 1984. While intense fear of the government is often seen as a form of insanity, to Pan it is a way of life. This forced me to think about my own opinion on the subject, starting a conversation and making me think about how much control I actually have on my life. It is very philosophical, but not at all preachy. It just sort of puts ideas out there and lets them flow around for the reader to make up their own mind. So this proved to be a very intellectual and thought-provoking book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a visceral and passionate ride through the psyche of an endlessly unique protagonist who has had his fill of the world as he knows it and decides to make a change. However, as an unlikely anti-hero who is shown drinking in bars and smashing it out with cops and other agents of chaos, Pan doesn't strike readers as a typical lead role, but in the twisted world of drinks, drugs, and hedonism that is so brutally and beautifully portrayed by Courtney, Pan is precisely the kind of focal point This is a visceral and passionate ride through the psyche of an endlessly unique protagonist who has had his fill of the world as he knows it and decides to make a change. However, as an unlikely anti-hero who is shown drinking in bars and smashing it out with cops and other agents of chaos, Pan doesn't strike readers as a typical lead role, but in the twisted world of drinks, drugs, and hedonism that is so brutally and beautifully portrayed by Courtney, Pan is precisely the kind of focal point we want. The premise is not only subtle and sinister, but also timely and frightening for us, since this fictional depiction comes a bit too close for comfort to our present reality. While this could have quickly devolved into a standard "one man against the machine" book filled with philosophical soliloquies and rambling metaphoric scenes, Courtney instead relies on his remarkable skill as a writer to draw us in to that world. We watch as Pan slips from the life of the party to a paranoid savior for an entire nation of potentially mind-controlled and obsequious citizens. He isn't a role model for the ages, but when the world is rotting from the inside out, sometimes you need to fight fire with fire. I thoroughly enjoyed Off the Grid, as it tells a story that we can all relate to - putting up with the madness of our modern world until we simply can't take it anymore. I think that a lot of people are approaching that level of desperation in the real world, and Courtney's book is both a warning and a reminder that we have more power than we think. Great storytelling coupled with an extremely impressive writing style.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marta Tandori

    Doing everything in excess and living to tell the tale...Courtney’s protagonist, who goes by the moniker Pan, in tribute to his Greek Mythological counterpart, is a self-described and unapologetic hedonist for whom materialistic pursuits no longer matter. His character isn’t someone a reader will find particularly likeable, especially from a woman’s perspective. However, some admiring male readers may undoubtedly find Pan to be a poster child for Doing Everything in Excess and Living to Tell the Doing everything in excess and living to tell the tale...Courtney’s protagonist, who goes by the moniker Pan, in tribute to his Greek Mythological counterpart, is a self-described and unapologetic hedonist for whom materialistic pursuits no longer matter. His character isn’t someone a reader will find particularly likeable, especially from a woman’s perspective. However, some admiring male readers may undoubtedly find Pan to be a poster child for Doing Everything in Excess and Living to Tell the Tale. Pan challenges authority, sees hypocrisy at every turn and scoffs at the ideals of the American Dream. Reading Off the Grid was somewhat akin to being caught up in an inexplicable and sometimes confusing dream that’s populated by the ramblings of a neurotic and highly narcissistic man-child; “man” because Pan has pretty much “lived it all and done it all” and “child” because he’s single-mindedly given in to his questionable pursuits without care or concern for the consequences of his actions. While the author’s writing style seemed at times disjointed, his descriptions were vivid, stark and filled with highly-visual contrasts that heightened the reader’s sense of being in the middle of the protagonist’s dream – or nightmare, as the case may be.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steve Bowcutt

    Freedom vs security, privacy vs technology, criminal vs hero, and the meaning of true patriotism. These are sliding scales, and everyone has their own unique thoughts on where the ideals lay. For many, Off the Grid: The Catalyst will force you to question your thoughts on these themes, and it will do so while entertaining you. Beautifully written, with page-turning chapters and many poignant and poetic lines, this book caused me to pull out the "highlight' function on my Kindle more times than fo Freedom vs security, privacy vs technology, criminal vs hero, and the meaning of true patriotism. These are sliding scales, and everyone has their own unique thoughts on where the ideals lay. For many, Off the Grid: The Catalyst will force you to question your thoughts on these themes, and it will do so while entertaining you. Beautifully written, with page-turning chapters and many poignant and poetic lines, this book caused me to pull out the "highlight' function on my Kindle more times than for any other in recent memory. While many of these highlights included strong language, the uses were appropriate and at no point felt gratuitous. To echo other reviewers, while others write in hopes of becoming a 'writer', this author is a writer already, awakening before our eyes in his debut novel. Very few works are compelling, entertaining, or complex enough to make it into my "to read again" pile. Not only does Brian Courtney's Off the Grid: The Catalyst earn a spot for all three reasons, but I'll make sure and make room for his future works.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Reg Shell

    A Wonderful But Different Read. This is the first novel by Brian Courtney, I found it to be a wonderfully different and an entertaining story, as the dilemmas that are placed before the main character, Pan A McCandless are disclosed. It is a very thought-provoking and novel story. Courtney has written a story that covers very deep topics in a way that will enthrall the reader. You will not want to put the book down as it heads towards its final destination. I fell in love with Pan even though he ha A Wonderful But Different Read. This is the first novel by Brian Courtney, I found it to be a wonderfully different and an entertaining story, as the dilemmas that are placed before the main character, Pan A McCandless are disclosed. It is a very thought-provoking and novel story. Courtney has written a story that covers very deep topics in a way that will enthrall the reader. You will not want to put the book down as it heads towards its final destination. I fell in love with Pan even though he has a very abrasive attitude to life; he questions all types of authority, and that tends to get him into all kinds of interesting scrapes. Again, I must state this is a different story than I expected. I enjoyed every word written by this talented author. I am eager to read more of Brian Courtney's writing. His ability to draw the reader into the scene of the novel is excellent. I would certainly recommend the reading of Off The Grid : The Catalyst, you will not be disappointed. I am sure you will mention this book to friends as a good read, I know that I will.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Roberta

    Pan reminds me of someone I know...and his ideas remind me of my friend's. What is kind of scary about this story is the parallel between Pan's world and ours. The government is only instituting Lifeline as a way to help, to serve, and to protect its people. Well, yes, there will be some loss of privacy, but it is all for the good, right? I don't know if Pan is crazy....he is definitely different from those around him, what psychologists today might call maladjusted, antisocial, and narcissistic. Pan reminds me of someone I know...and his ideas remind me of my friend's. What is kind of scary about this story is the parallel between Pan's world and ours. The government is only instituting Lifeline as a way to help, to serve, and to protect its people. Well, yes, there will be some loss of privacy, but it is all for the good, right? I don't know if Pan is crazy....he is definitely different from those around him, what psychologists today might call maladjusted, antisocial, and narcissistic. However, he does know how to be aware, and to look behind the rhetoric of the world systems to see the truth of what is going on out there. Maybe we all know a Pan....maybe we all should. This book has some pretty intense language, which was the reason I gave it only four stars. If that is not a problem for you, you will definitely find it to be a five star read! Just enough action....just enough romance.....and just enough 'truth'.....

  11. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    This is Brian Courtney's first novel but it is well written. I was a little sceptical when asked to review this book but found it kept my interest to the final page. It was an adventure story that examined the dark side of the American 'dream' but also includes some very thought provoking ideas. Brian's style of writing appeared blunt and to the point but at times, when he felt the story would benefit from more description, elaborated on things. Pan, Courtney's mysterious character is beautifully This is Brian Courtney's first novel but it is well written. I was a little sceptical when asked to review this book but found it kept my interest to the final page. It was an adventure story that examined the dark side of the American 'dream' but also includes some very thought provoking ideas. Brian's style of writing appeared blunt and to the point but at times, when he felt the story would benefit from more description, elaborated on things. Pan, Courtney's mysterious character is beautifully shown as someone who can go from being passionate to seething hatred for others. I would describe him as being a Jekyll and Hyde character. I can't say I enjoyed this book, it's not one I would have selected but it did retain my interest as you did not know where his journey would go next. His style of writing was very good and some of what the book said left me still thinking after reading it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    This book is well written but it reminds me a lot of old movies like Conspiracy Theory. I think it would be a great read for someone who is interested in that type of thing or who is a young reader and new to this type of book. It is in a class of it's own with the main character being driven by society in both negative and positive ways. It is a book I am just not sure about. I wish this review could be better but I am feeling really neutral about this book. This book is well written but it reminds me a lot of old movies like Conspiracy Theory. I think it would be a great read for someone who is interested in that type of thing or who is a young reader and new to this type of book. It is in a class of it's own with the main character being driven by society in both negative and positive ways. It is a book I am just not sure about. I wish this review could be better but I am feeling really neutral about this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    SSteppenwolFF

    Very well written , insightful and intelligent A very relevant shout out to this Post Bush administration , 9/11 , Homeland Security , Uber-Surveillance state we seem to find ourselves in these days . I really enjoyed this very goodread and can't wait for the sequel . Very well written , insightful and intelligent A very relevant shout out to this Post Bush administration , 9/11 , Homeland Security , Uber-Surveillance state we seem to find ourselves in these days . I really enjoyed this very goodread and can't wait for the sequel .

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Kincaid

    Well if you want a book that will piss you off this is it. I don't usually read these types of books but I was asked nicely to read and review it. To me it felt like read a modern day version of Pink Floyd's The Wall. It was interesting. Well if you want a book that will piss you off this is it. I don't usually read these types of books but I was asked nicely to read and review it. To me it felt like read a modern day version of Pink Floyd's The Wall. It was interesting.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nose In A Book

    Pan A. McCandless is an independent-thinking soul. First of all, his real name is not really Pan. It was earned because of his personal story’s resemblance to the mythological creature consisting of women and mischief. He was tutored by his mother right from his childhood on working hard and achieving the “American dream.” Pan also had a fair share of getting in trouble with the police right from his teenage years where he went to juvenile jail and got into a scuffle with racist white teenage pr Pan A. McCandless is an independent-thinking soul. First of all, his real name is not really Pan. It was earned because of his personal story’s resemblance to the mythological creature consisting of women and mischief. He was tutored by his mother right from his childhood on working hard and achieving the “American dream.” Pan also had a fair share of getting in trouble with the police right from his teenage years where he went to juvenile jail and got into a scuffle with racist white teenage prison mates who had wanted him to join them and their “white supremacy” agenda. Pan had a soft spot for minorities and was totally against the police stating that they did not live up to their “serve and protect” policy but used their job privileges and duties dangerously. Aside from these troubles, Pan sleeps with two women: one was a waitress who lived above a bar he frequented and one was a bank employee who he met when he went to her workplace to deposit a load of money he acquired through drug dealing means. This book drew my curiosity when it introduced Pan as similar to the mythological being with the same name. I am a fan of such and I also was lured in by Pan’s solo, daring behavior as well as the mention of the “Institution” because this is the first time I have heard of this subject. What this book means by the “Institution” is the government itself and how everyone’s data is kept by it from the day we enter the world at birth so that everyone of us are easily tracked by the government at all times. Here’s the book’s complete description of what the “Institution” means: “According to Pan, The Institution was everyone and everything all the way down to the streets on which we drive. The Institution is the government and the infrastructure. It is the schools and clergies. It is where we live and where we shop. It is where we work and where we come together for fun and it is all around us at all times. Everyplace we go and everything we do has a feeling of autonomy, a sense that there isn’t any connection. This seeming disconnect, this feeling of separation is how The Institution retains its power.” This book contains violence and sex but not graphically so it was readable and likable. It was exciting right from the beginning and aligns with current events involving the law and illegal immigrants and their connections to cartels, drugs, and murder. I thought the author knew quite a lot about this world or must have done extensive research or was talking from personal experience. Pan is pretty much your stereotypical masculine character as he loves his women and booze very much. I recommend him and this book to those who love stories having to do with the law and the whole issue of drugs and the life of a lawbreaking citizen who sees the government as an unfair entity abusing its power and privileges. It’s a very interesting read and I guess I enjoyed reading about Pan and his very individualistic views…

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I have mixed feelings about this novel. On one hand, one cannot deny the imaginative talent the author has, especially in the second half when the exposition take a backseat and the popping, vivid dialogue really helps bring the story and characters to life. It was a bit hard to follow however, and lacked a certain flow. The language is dense, and I found often the exposition to be repetitive, and again, difficult to follow. Pan is not a terribly likeable character, and I appreciated the fearles I have mixed feelings about this novel. On one hand, one cannot deny the imaginative talent the author has, especially in the second half when the exposition take a backseat and the popping, vivid dialogue really helps bring the story and characters to life. It was a bit hard to follow however, and lacked a certain flow. The language is dense, and I found often the exposition to be repetitive, and again, difficult to follow. Pan is not a terribly likeable character, and I appreciated the fearlessness of how he was drawn, however, it helps if a character has some redeeming qualities which provide a sort of redemption. It is a tricky line to cross, I know, and appreciated the effort, but I did not find myself particularly rooting for him, and grew tired of his bad boy antics. Regardless, I would still recommend this book, as it has much going for it. Although I think the author could benefit from simplicity (the descriptiveness at times was too much), the writing overall is quite good, the story is interesting and I appreciated how unlike it is out of much of the material out there. There is a boldness to both the writing and the story, and to echo some other reviews, yes, it can be unpolished at times, but in part, that is what makes it such an interesting read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chapter Adapter

    An enjoyable read with believable characters and lots of detailed descriptive scenes. A very us and them plot that has the reader rooting for the protagonist, who consistently rails against the establishment. The story has overtones of the Big Brother theme from George Orwell’s classic dystopian thriller Nineteen Eighty-Four. Brian Courtney’s Off The Grid shares the nightmarish reality of a character finding themself in such a world, almost overnight. The tone manages to stay upbeat, despite the An enjoyable read with believable characters and lots of detailed descriptive scenes. A very us and them plot that has the reader rooting for the protagonist, who consistently rails against the establishment. The story has overtones of the Big Brother theme from George Orwell’s classic dystopian thriller Nineteen Eighty-Four. Brian Courtney’s Off The Grid shares the nightmarish reality of a character finding themself in such a world, almost overnight. The tone manages to stay upbeat, despite the frustration of the protagonist, who the reader ‘hears’ from the most. The characters are described in sufficient depth that the reader really gets a feel for what each is like, without going overboard and loosing the reader’s interest with superfluous scenes. Without giving anything away, I can say that I was somewhat surprised by the ending, however, which carried with it a slightly sentimental, perhaps moralistic moment.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I tried to like this book I really did. It’s a thinly veiled autobiography of a “self proclaimed iconoclast.” C’mon, I can’t take most self referential people, let alone someone referring to himself as an iconoclast. I could not get much past Courtney’s description of a childhood spent in “the Institution.” About 75 pages in I put it down because I was bored with the narrative (8 pages describing a brief encounter with some neo-nazis) and because I had no interest in the childhood of a seemingly I tried to like this book I really did. It’s a thinly veiled autobiography of a “self proclaimed iconoclast.” C’mon, I can’t take most self referential people, let alone someone referring to himself as an iconoclast. I could not get much past Courtney’s description of a childhood spent in “the Institution.” About 75 pages in I put it down because I was bored with the narrative (8 pages describing a brief encounter with some neo-nazis) and because I had no interest in the childhood of a seemingly radical person whose thoughts and actions closely resembled my own spent in a suburban, Wonder bread, middle class town. I rarely put books down before finishing them but this was not compelling. At all. Don’t believe the blurbs on the back cover likening him to Orwell, Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy and Bukowski. Not only do these names lumped together make no sense as a categorization, I see no inkling of any of these authors, all of whom I am pretty familiar with.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Kester

    This novel by Brian Courtney focuses on a character named Pan. Throughout Pan’s life he has tried to find happiness with money, artificial feelings, and possessions. As the book starts out, we see Pan using these things to obtain fake happiness, but eventually he starts to struggle with this. Pan starts to feel that something is missing and begins to become a little hesitant about the future. This novel takes us on Pan’s journey of trying to find true happiness and life’s meaning. Who is he? Wha This novel by Brian Courtney focuses on a character named Pan. Throughout Pan’s life he has tried to find happiness with money, artificial feelings, and possessions. As the book starts out, we see Pan using these things to obtain fake happiness, but eventually he starts to struggle with this. Pan starts to feel that something is missing and begins to become a little hesitant about the future. This novel takes us on Pan’s journey of trying to find true happiness and life’s meaning. Who is he? What does he really want in life? Sometimes the book can seem a little long in some areas. However, Courtney writes the novel very well and creatively takes the reader on Pan’s epic self-discovery journey as he works to find himself and what he really wants in life. If you have some time to spend (the book is 270 pages) and want to read something engrossing that will make you ponder about what true happiness really is, definitely give this book a try.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rabid Reads

    Courtney’s novel questions consumerism and trust in authority and especially holds a mirror up to the accepted ‘American dream’. If you’ve never thought to question the powers that be before reading this, you may well find yourself doing so afterwards. And that’s no bad thing. To want to know answers, explanations, reasons and rationales is surely a good thing, an innately human thing. Children always want to know why and adults can all too often grow out of this search for knowledge and be side Courtney’s novel questions consumerism and trust in authority and especially holds a mirror up to the accepted ‘American dream’. If you’ve never thought to question the powers that be before reading this, you may well find yourself doing so afterwards. And that’s no bad thing. To want to know answers, explanations, reasons and rationales is surely a good thing, an innately human thing. Children always want to know why and adults can all too often grow out of this search for knowledge and be sidetracked by different priorities. This is essentially the tale of a rebel loner, but a rebel loner with intelligence and a conscience, who never lost his curiosity and urge to know more than he’s being told. The story blurs the easily assumed roles of good and bad in both people and institutions of authority.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Luxurious Literature

    I’d previously heard of transgressive fiction but this was the first time I read a book that really made me understand the genre. Pan is a protagonist I’m sure some will struggle to get their head around, and perhaps even more so to like him. We journey with him on his self destructive path of confusion and discovery. The writing is very accomplished, and as the story develops it can be challenging, while also very engaging, so quite a miasma of complexities all within one book. This definitely i I’d previously heard of transgressive fiction but this was the first time I read a book that really made me understand the genre. Pan is a protagonist I’m sure some will struggle to get their head around, and perhaps even more so to like him. We journey with him on his self destructive path of confusion and discovery. The writing is very accomplished, and as the story develops it can be challenging, while also very engaging, so quite a miasma of complexities all within one book. This definitely isn’t a book to lull you to sleep, but if you’d rather find something different that challenges your sensibilities and holds your attention long after you finish I think this will be for you.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Page After Page

    I liked the narrative style of this book – down to earth and conversational, but much more. Brian Courtney’s writing is rich with description; he doesn’t overlook attention to detail in perfectly creating each scene. The novel included an unexpected nod towards sci-fi, but maintained its focus as purely a work of dystopian fiction. I think that the phrase ‘Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you’ seems quite pertinent to illustrate the plot. Although this trope could I liked the narrative style of this book – down to earth and conversational, but much more. Brian Courtney’s writing is rich with description; he doesn’t overlook attention to detail in perfectly creating each scene. The novel included an unexpected nod towards sci-fi, but maintained its focus as purely a work of dystopian fiction. I think that the phrase ‘Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you’ seems quite pertinent to illustrate the plot. Although this trope could have been traversed in a hackneyed, predictable way, Courtney has avoided that and penned an original and engaging story concerning perhaps the ultimate antidisestablishmentarian. I recommend this book to everyone who likes to eschew donning rose-tinted glasses in their reading.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fiction Addiction

    This is a story with a protagonist like myself, who continuously questions the status quo. A good amount of the character’s cynicism is revealed early in the story, which made me feel right at home. I even learned some interesting mythology facts after only reading a couple of pages, which is always a bonus, plus I learned about American politics too. In a way this book is the epitome of transgressive fiction as it absolutely, definitively and directly criticises the establishment and marks out This is a story with a protagonist like myself, who continuously questions the status quo. A good amount of the character’s cynicism is revealed early in the story, which made me feel right at home. I even learned some interesting mythology facts after only reading a couple of pages, which is always a bonus, plus I learned about American politics too. In a way this book is the epitome of transgressive fiction as it absolutely, definitively and directly criticises the establishment and marks out the main character, Pan, as entirely opposed to it. Pan’s thoughts do sound like they’re bordering on the hysterical occasionally however, and on the edge of paranoia. This is a conspiracy theory novel through and through and a pretty entertaining one too.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Reading Right

    Courtney does a great job of giving the readers a main character that is loveable and crazy at the same time. The first half of the book gives us a good glimpse into who he is and what he believes. The second half starts to get into the main conflict but the ending leaves the readers with a cliff hanger. If you're into conspiracy theory type characters with no regard to polite language, this book is for you. Courtney does a great job of giving the readers a main character that is loveable and crazy at the same time. The first half of the book gives us a good glimpse into who he is and what he believes. The second half starts to get into the main conflict but the ending leaves the readers with a cliff hanger. If you're into conspiracy theory type characters with no regard to polite language, this book is for you.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ebook Planet

    Off the Grid: The Catalyst is an impressive effort from debut novelist, Brian Courtney, that displays the hallmarks of an experienced professional. The author has a loose writing style with an elegant flow in which he delivers powerful social commentary as he examines the dark side of the American 'dream' and touches upon the evils of theocracy. The strangely likeable protagonist, Pan, displays the worst traits of our consumerist society: a glutton obsessed with money and sex. The author has pull Off the Grid: The Catalyst is an impressive effort from debut novelist, Brian Courtney, that displays the hallmarks of an experienced professional. The author has a loose writing style with an elegant flow in which he delivers powerful social commentary as he examines the dark side of the American 'dream' and touches upon the evils of theocracy. The strangely likeable protagonist, Pan, displays the worst traits of our consumerist society: a glutton obsessed with money and sex. The author has pulled no punches in his depiction of a character who is at first glance puddle deep, yet bears multiple layers of treachery and self-loathing - he is a wonderfully realised wretch. Pan's hypocrisy is such that he so readily criticises society for its ills, and then fails to apply his morals as he lingers in both grimy and decadent locations. There is a surreal, spiritual element to proceedings that I won't go into much detail about, other than to say it fits the dream/nightmare vibe perfectly. The writing quality was such, that even the occasional info dump could be forgiven due to Courtney's compelling, allegorical approach. It rarely felt like a word was wasted, even on those occasions when the 'incorrect' technique was used. A writer knows which mistakes to eliminate, but an artist knows which ones to keep. Courtney is one of the brightest literary voices I have come across, particularly on the indie scene, and I am expecting big things from his future works. The Kindle catalogue is full of works from those who want to be writers, but this comes from one who was meant to be a writer.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kindle Crazy

    I was shocked when I discovered that this was Brian Courtney's debut novel as it was so accomplished. The plot is a really unique take on the satire that is so popular in contemporary fiction, and the lead character Pan was believable and in a way, really endearing. We have all had that point in our lives where we pretend that we are happy and satisfied with out lives, at least on the surface. For most of us this doesn't last, but for Pan it has become his default mode. He achieved the much soug I was shocked when I discovered that this was Brian Courtney's debut novel as it was so accomplished. The plot is a really unique take on the satire that is so popular in contemporary fiction, and the lead character Pan was believable and in a way, really endearing. We have all had that point in our lives where we pretend that we are happy and satisfied with out lives, at least on the surface. For most of us this doesn't last, but for Pan it has become his default mode. He achieved the much sought after, American Dream. With plenty of money and power, he can get pretty much whatever he wants, but it isn't enough. Happiness was hard to come buy and ultimately the more he tried to find it with sex and drugs, the bigger the void in himself, and the closer to destruction he comes. It is a thrilling read and one that might just stop you from constantly wanting more.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Book Blast

    Brian Courtney did a great job of painting the perfect picture of youth rebellion turned paranoia in creating Pan. Pan's hatred for authority starts to bleed into every interaction. He encapsulated (albeit to a bit of an extreme) everything we feel when we think "Big Brother" has wronged us. Pan spends most of this story fighting the world that seems pitted against him as he searches for himself. The narrator shares the voice, and Courtney does a great job of keeping the novel flowing, even if it Brian Courtney did a great job of painting the perfect picture of youth rebellion turned paranoia in creating Pan. Pan's hatred for authority starts to bleed into every interaction. He encapsulated (albeit to a bit of an extreme) everything we feel when we think "Big Brother" has wronged us. Pan spends most of this story fighting the world that seems pitted against him as he searches for himself. The narrator shares the voice, and Courtney does a great job of keeping the novel flowing, even if it does get a bit long in some parts. Pan's journey is a great way to spend a day, and it'll keep you hooked until the very end. Pan is very much the person you don't like, but you can't help but feel for him in his journey. Definitely a page-turner and worth the read!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angie Dickenson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Conrad Jones

  30. 5 out of 5

    Peter Knoxville

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