Cover of Edited by Barry Lyga. White cover with concentric rectangles around the title.

About the Book

Title: Edited
Published: 2022

Cover Story: Subdued
Drinking Buddy: Never
MPAA Rating: R (sex, language, alcohol)
Talky Talk: And talk, and talk, and talk.
Anti-bonus Factor: The author is a character
Bromance Status: Hard breakup

Cover Story: Subdued

Less is more and the I liked the minimalist cover. This was about the only thing I liked about the book.

The Deal:

Mike stupidly let his girlfriend Phil(omel) get away from him when he enrolled in a far away college. After an unexpected spring break hookup, Mike realizes he still loves her, and tells her so. Unfortunately, Phil is now dating someone else and she’s over Mike.

But wait! Mike finds he can go back and change certain events in his life–‘edit’ them, if you will–and can fix everything. Never let her go in the first place. Except, as we learned from The Lathe of Heaven, that sort of meddling just makes things worse.

Now here’s the deal. This book is 250 pages long. But apparently there’s an 800 page version, Unedited, which is how the author originally saw the book, before his editor made him trim it way down. Edited includes many emails, texts, and conversations between author Barry Lyga and his editor. Countless footnotes explain the how his genius was subverted by the editing process and we’re missing out on some really good chapters that his mean old editor made him cut.

The publisher sent me Edited in hardcover form and Unedited as an e-book. I did not read Unedited.

Drinking Buddy: Never

Two pints of beer cheersing with a "Denied" stamp over them

Look, we’ve all thought back on past relationships and realized what a jerk we were. Maybe we even tried to call them to see if maybe…no? Okay. Nice talking to you.

But Mike never really treated Phil that great. He was one of those literary (or real life) guys who lands a woman way out of his league, and then kind of just takes her for granted. I’m not sure what even attracted her to Mike in the first place. He doesn’t even break up with her. They just sort of go their separate ways.

And then he spends the first third of the book moping about her to the reader. Not in the guise of a conversation with someone or anything. It’s just a long monologue of ‘Why did I let this hot girl I didn’t have a lot in common with out of my life? Oh, poor, poor me!’ He’s the guy you end up sitting next to at a bar who tells you his whole sad life story without you saying a word or looking in his direction.

Oh, and he has the power to warp reality. I guess.

Talky Talk: And talk, and talk, and talk.

Is it’s clear that the author decided that he was just going to subvert all literary conventions and write a book that’s so meta the readers’ heads will explode. Genre flipping! The inclusion of the writer’s thoughts as footnotes! Random manga frames! Switching from first to third person halfway through the book!

What resulted was an almost unreadable mess. In addition to the unlikable main character, nothing made sense. Chapters of whiny prose, followed by extremely confusing text. It was like reading a book in a language I was learning. I recognized all the words, but the meaning eluded me.

Also, in regards to all the content about the writing of the book…

That’s something to include on your website or in an interview. Or if this book was a classic that thousands of people were discussing. But this just smacks of the author praising his own brilliance, and trying to show up his editor. The included emails were obviously heavily edited themselves. And the book Edited was, ironically, poorly edited. Mike and his friend randomly wind up wandering in the dark, lost in the subway tunnels. “Want to know how they go there? Read Unedited.”

As for the availability of the longer version, a YA book as long as a James Clavell novel, I don’t see this taking off. I once found a book containing a previously unpublished chapter of my favorite novel, Catch-22. My only reaction was ‘Yeah, they were right to cut this.’

Anti-bonus factor: The Author as a Character

Stephen King's cameo in Pet Sematary

Many authors, including myself, like to throw a cameo into their novels (The nerdy guy playing video games at the party? That’s me!). But Barry Lyga includes YA writer Barry Lyga as the godlike author of Mike’s fate. Or something. Only he’s another author whose name is an anagram of Barry Lyga. No, it’s really Barry Lyga, but he’s dead. No, here he is. Author Barry Lyga. God.

I’ve said it before, only one author ever successfully pulled off including himself as a character in a novel, and that was Kurt Vonnegut in Breakfast of Champions.

Bromance Status: Hard breakup

Other people liked books by this author, and I may pick them up one day. But not today.

Literary Matchmaking


Literally, by Lucy Keating, is a marginally better book with the real author as a character.

The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine #1)

The Eye of Minds, by James Dashner, also deals with a character who comes to grips with the idea he may not exist in the way he thought he did.

Elusion (Elusion #1)

As does Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam’s Elusion.

FCC full disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, but no money. I may mail it back.


Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.