Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig Review

Another terrific cover for Wendig's collection.
I have become fond of Chuck Wendig's work. I love his writing style. He has a knack for deliciously dark and twisted stories with colorful characters and dialogue which I wish I sounded like in real life. This story is no different. The story of Mookie Pearl is an exciting one which is just what you want and expect from Wendig and so much more.

I have to be honest. For some reason I did not have high expectations for this book. I'm not really sure why. I like urban fantasy. I just remember reading an early synopsis, and not gaining much interest. I bought the book though, because I like the author. I'm really glad I did.

The story revolves around protagonist Mookie Pearl; a soldier and drug pusher for "The Organization" which controls the literal underworld  under New York City. This particular drug is called the blue blazes. A drug that gives you a high like any other, but while your riding said high the scales fall from your eyes. What does that mean? Well, there are a lot of different kinds of people in New York. Not different ethnicities or nationalities, mind you, but folk your bound to find in a fantasy novel. The drug allows you to see different creatures who normally resemble humans for who they really are. Mookie pushes this drug. He finds the drug. He pushes it. He deals with what has to be dealt with. He's a soldier. It's what he does.

One of the major themes in this story is family. Mookie's relationship with his daughter plays a huge part. She goes by the name Persophone on the street as she attempts to take down The Organization. When the boss of The Organization is dying and a conspiracy is threatening The Organization itself, Mookie must choose between the love for his daughter who hates him and his loyalty for his employers.

Mookie is a great hero. Something I didn't expect when I began. He's likable and misunderstood. He's not your average hero, but that's why he works. His relationship with his daughter creates a lot of heart for the story. It's very real, and not always pretty, but that's what ultimately makes it satisfying in the end. He's a big guy with a big heart that is hard to see through layers of muscle, fat, and scar tissue.

The world that Wendig creates is one of the best things about the book. It's an interesting vision of New York. Enough fantasy for those who crave the supernatural, but gritty and realistic at the same time. It's a world you can believe in. It's similar to something like Hellboy, but it feels like a story all it's own. I love that he uses mythological creatures that aren't the usual orcs, elves, etc. There are snake men, golems, Lovecraftian gods, and half human half whatever you can think of. 

A criminal underworld on top of a literal one, 5 types of legendary drugs, and an awesome supernatural conspiracy trying to turn it all upside down. It's one hell of a story. I loved this book, and can't wait for the next Mookie Pearl adventure. I would also like to say that the cover is another great for Wendig's collection.

I wish the guy who did this and the Miriam Black covers(if they are the same guy) would do every book cover from now on. I guy can dream.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gone South by Robert McCammon

McCammon is quickly becoming my favorite author. His stories of incredible situations and characters continue to fascinate me and become some of my favorite stories. This book is no different.

Gone South is the story of Dan Lambert, a Vietnam vet struggling through a recession. He has cancer he believes is caused by agent orange. The last thing he has to his name is his truck and now the bank wants to repossess his last real possession. During an argument Dan kills the bank's loan manager in self defense and goes on the run to a journey through south Louisiana and the bayou shanty towns that where life is essentially the wild west. On the way Dan meets a young girl named Arden Halliday. Gorgeous except for a large, dark birth mark on the side of her face. She's looking for a faith healer named the Bright Girl who may have the ability to take her birth mark away. On their journey the are tracked by two unorthodox bounty hunters. I could describe the two, but it's much better if it hits you off guard. Believe me, it's worth it.

Gone South is a story about destiny. It's about being lost about how everything happens for a reason, and how if you hold on and keep going you will arrive at the right destination. Even if wasn't the one you were looking for. Each character in the story is lost in some way or another. The book is about finding yourself and your place in life. To quote the book itself "It's not where you are the matters; it's where your going that counts."

I'm not sure how accurate it is, but I really liked McCammon's vision of south Louisiana. The lawless Cajun community is fascinating. Considering how popular shows like Swamp People are currently, it wouldn't be a surprise if those same fans find an interest in this. 

The novel is really great at being unpredictable. Your never sure where the character's are going to end up, and where they do will blow you away.

Gone South is a great hopeful novel about destiny. The last thirty pages of the book are fantastic and will honestly make you feel better about the world. Well, for at least a couple hours. But isn't that what great stories are? An escape? If so this novel is a great one.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lamb by Christopher Moore Review

 This is a book about Jesus. This book is fucking funny. This book might offend you if you have weak beliefs/no sense of humor/ are an uppity jackass who feels like they need to spend their time attacking something because it makes them uncomfortable. Now that that is done.

This book is the funniest thing I have ever read. Several times I found myself chuckling like a maniac joke after joke with  everyone who may have been in the room staring about me as if they were confirming my suspicions. While the children of today would wonder why I'm laughing at that strange bunch of paper in my hand that seems to be glued together at one end. They would run to their parents who were attempting to sleep on the park benches during the fifteen minutes a day they didn't have to entertain their children or bosses, and fill their heads with ridiculous questions while the parents would suddenly wonder how they raised such stupid children. I would then question what I'm doing in a park full of children(isn't that how people get arrested these days?), and head home to finish my novel in peace.

Lamb, as the cover of the book suggests is the Gospel according to Biff: Christ's childhood pal. Indeed Levi who is called Biff is the protagonist and narrator. The story goes that Biff was Jesus' best friend and is now being brought back from the dead to write a new chapter in the Bible from his point of view.

Jesus in this text is referred to as Joshua(Which is actually the English version of his actual name Yeshua. Look it up). I like this because it is much easier to relate to a character named Josh than a character named Jesus. Josh is a terrific character. Witty and likeable, but retaining all the values of what made up Jesus Christ while still being relate-able and actually a little flawed. That's the biggie. Something I loved which a lot of people will hate is that Josh is not perfect. I've never understood why people make a big fuss about this. Isn't just as inspiring that a real human being with flaws who overcame those flaws achieved the things that Jesus of Nazareth did? I guess not. Most people want to believe their idols are all perfect. Jesus was perfect, George Washington chopped down that cherry tree, and Ben Franklin certainly discovered electricity. Yep it definitely wasn't the Greek scientists thousands of years before. Nope it was Ben "Granny fucking" Franklin. If your wondering why I gave one of the founding fathers, who I do believe was a brilliant man by the way, that nickname. Do some research on Franklin's theories about sex. Yes, children, the founding fathers did have premarital sex like normal human beings despite the theory that they were genitalia-less arch-angels sent from God via manifest destiny.

Back from my rant to the actual book I am reviewing. Josh and Biff are a great duo. Josh is everything you want in a Messiah. A kind, wise, and down to Earth philosopher who you could definitely see people wanting to rally behind. Biff is a great foil. He is loud, rude,sarcastic, and as the angel Raziel refers to him in the prologue, an asshole. Though a dick, Biff does have a heart and it shows through in his narration. He is more the street-wise equivalent to Josh. He does the bad but necessary things so Josh doesn't have to. Other characters from the Bible include Mary Magdalene, known as as Maggie, Mary, Joseph, The three wise men, John the Baptist, and of course all the disciples.

Christopher Moore's comedic timing is perfect. He master's comedy in writing like no one I've ever read. The jokes hit hard every time, but never fail to make the bring down the story and tone. The story is heartfelt and serious when it needs to be. It explores the missing years of Jesus' life for the first two acts and respectable depicts the years that are covered in the Bible. Never failing to make the reader laugh, and just as unimportant, never failing to make the reader feel.

I loved this book. It's a fantastic read for anyone looking to laugh at a great story. It's a terrific piece of fiction about Jesus and is respectful so anyone can enjoy it whether they or religious or not. If you are offended by this book or simply the plot of it let me leave you with a quote by the author, "This story is not and never as meant to challenge anyone's faith; however, if one's faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel, one may have a bit more praying to do."-Christopher Moore