by Sean Michaels
In The Wagers, Theo Potiris believes in luck. He works at his family’s supermarket by day and does stand-up comedy at night, but he only performs a set if he wins a bet at the racetrack beforehand. Though he briefly saw some minor success with his comedy––receiving interview requests and performing on late night television––his career fizzled. In fact, luck seems more and more to be passing him by. After his mother passes away suddenly and his cousin wins millions––at the racetrack he bets at weekly, no less––he puts his dreams on hold to try and find a way to improve his luck. He discovers that luck exists in a physical form, improving the fortune of anyone possessing it; Theo joins up with a gang of outlaws, travelling the world to rob people of their luck.
The Wagers is a slow burn, a bit of a drag, in fact, in what at times feels like an extended introduction to the meat of the story. (Though, this characterization isn’t exactly accurate in spite of this feeling; the pieces that feel like a slow build to a main plot turn out to be more significant than they first appeared.) I don’t, however, want to suggest that some major piece of the book is entirely dreary. Not far into it, Theo delivers a stirring speech that seems to brighten the text immediately following it. And the writing of character speech in general is really what shines the brightest in The Wagers. Michaels uses it effectively to inject life into his characters, which in turn brings out realistic emotions and gives the plot heft as it moves along. What results is a story about maturing that feels mature in its outlook and presentation.