In Retro Review: Supernatural: One Year Gone

The action exceeds the credibility of the characters, though the mini-story in the past is good.

Supernatural: One Year Gone by Rebecca Dessertine

Published by Titan Books, May 2011. Paperback of 335 pages at $7.99.

The cover: Sam and Dean stand ready, though the latter looks like he has indigestion. Behind them is a copy of the infamous Necronomicon and below is a lone tree in a grassy field. A noose hangs from one of its branches. The Winchesters look okay and the background items are very subtle; you might not even notice they were there unless pointed out. With the exception of the choice of picture of Jensen Ackles, this looks fine. Overall grade: B

The premise: From the back cover, “Twenty-eight years ago, Sam and Dean Winchester lost their mother to a mysterious and demonic supernatural force. In the years after, their father, John, taught them about the paranormal evil that lives in the dark corners and on the back roads of America…and he taught them how to kill it. Believing that Sam is in Hell, Dean tries to keep his promise to his younger brother and live a normal life with Lisa and Ben. However, when he realizes that a spell in the Necronomicon could raise Lucifer and therefore Sam, he convinces his new family to travel with him on vacation to Salem. Meanwhile, Sam is not as far away as Dean thinks and has his own reason for hunting the Salem witches…” This story is set between Season 5 and 6, and having only just gotten halfway through Season 6 this is something I’m looking forward to. Overall grade: B+

The foreward: This is a first–a Foreward. It’s by series creator Eric Kripke and it introduces the readers of this novel to writer Rebecca Dessertine. She is Kripke’s assistant on the show, so she’s more than familiar with the characters, their backstories, and the type of adventure that her boss would like to see them in. That’s a ringing endorsement in my book. My hopes for this book have raised a little. Overall grade: A

The characters: Dean is suffering from tremendous guilt, having watched his brother Sam allow himself to be caged in Hell with Lucifer and crazy Archangel Michael. He’s living with a woman he feels strongly for, Lisa, and her twelve year old son Ben, but, try as he might, he can’t stop thinking about ways to get Sam back. It was very funny watching Dean teach Ben how to flirt, and he does have the expected one-liners of sarcasm to irritate the antagonists, but Page 328 has him doing something that’s completely out of character. Sam is out of Hell and with his resurrected grandfather Samuel, follow the trio to Salem, because gramps is instructed by Crowley, an uber-bad Hellion, to keep Sam from getting that book, or things will really go to hell. Sam, like Dean, has flashbacks to previous untold adventures, and they were entertaining. I like how Dessertine has Sam realizing he feels different about things, but not why (It’s told early on in Season 6). Samuel is just as focused as ever in doing Crowley’s bidding in the hopes his daughter will be pulled from Hell. The two baddies are two witches, Constance and Prudence, with the first being the big bad of the book. She is trying to cast a major spell, in fact, one that she’s been trying to cast for over 300 years, but she’s always thwarted. In the past it was by the Winchesters’ ancestors, Caleb and Thomas, whose adventures are told through a diary. They were really fun and I wanted more of them in the past than the boys in the present. Overall grade: A-

The settings: Salem in its infamous past and in the present. It’s a lousy place to live in the past, and it’s a tourist trap with a lot of history in the present. I loved the description of the hotel that Lisa picks to stay in and Dean’s reaction. The 1692 parts of the book are the most vivid in their descriptions: loved the forests and the homes of that time. The present is also done well, but it’s an urban setting so there’s not much glamor that Dessertine can bring to it. Overall grade: A-

The action: The flashbacks with untold Sam and Dean stories were good, and the adventures of Caleb and Thomas were fantastic, but the present was a big letdown. I got really tired of Dean being knocked out by Sam or Samuel so that he wouldn’t know that they were watching, and I couldn’t believe that Lisa and Ben were involved in this outing because of what happens; at one point Ben and Dean are on a ghost pirate ship evading the spectral swabbies. It was an incredibly forced situation that Ben never reveals in the television series. It was too much to tie into continuity. Overall grade: C

The conclusion: Without a television budget hampering what occurs, there’s a major event in the end that was bigger than the Apocalypse. It was too much, and the addition of gangs of gun selling kids was silly. I can’t believe that Lisa would stay with Dean after lying to her and what Ben went through. Overall grade: D

The final line: The action exceeds the credibility of the characters, though the mini-story in the past is good. Overall grade: C


Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
    3 Comments on this post.
  • Nicholas Yanes
    31 August 2014 at 10:31 pm -

    How do the grades B, B+, A, A-, A-, C, and D average out to a C?

  • Patrick Hayes
    1 September 2014 at 12:15 am -

    Patrick Hayes here, and that’s a good question. The cover and the premise are introductions; I look at them as “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” They can be high, but their interior low. The characters and The settings can be well written and executed well, but be in an absolutely terrible story. The action and The conclusion are the story itself. If they’re low, they influence the overall grade immensely. Because The action and The conclusion were so low for me, I put the book at a C. Percentage-wise, I’d break it down as The cover 5%, the premise 5%, The characters 15%, The setting 15%, and The action and story 30% each. The new website that SciFiPulse now uses has an automated scoring system that I’m going to be using soon. A longer explanation that I’m sure you were expecting, but that’s how I’ve been doing it.

  • Ian Cullen
    2 September 2014 at 12:24 am -

    Patrick that’s pretty much destroyed the myth of your scoring system. I was hoping you could keep it secret so it could stay the stuff of legends.

    In terms of the automatic scoring. If you want to. Use your own in conjunction with the new system. That way you don’t alienate those that like your systems. I.E. JMS who you have said commented on it when you spoke with him at a convention.

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