Saturday, March 12, 2016

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

If she knew someone was trying to kill her, Zoey Ashe wouldn't have been outside in the freezing cold trying to get her cat off the roof of her trailer. The Jackal/Hyena/Shark (he hasn't really settled on an alias yet) is lurking around with millions of viewers waiting for his moment to pounce. Will Blackwater (sporting a fancy suit) saves her and brings her to the explosive, overwhelming world of Tabula Ra$a. This strange city is garish, loud, and mostly lawless. Zoey's biological father Arthur Livingston is a wealthy entrepreneur who amassed his riches using a combination of legal and illegal means. Zoey doesn't want anything to do with him, but she's mixed up in this trouble anyway. She caused the deaths of a couple of people coming after her who were followers of an internet sensation named Moloch. He takes great offense and vows to kill her, asking his followers to bring her to him in return for praise. Everyone with an internet connection is either after her or willing to be entertained by her death. What's a girl to do?

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits is a fun book that sucks you into its fucked up futuristic world. It's stylistically similar to David Wong's John Dies at the End series except in science fiction instead of horror and with a female protagonist. The story takes place in the nearish future and features advanced technologies. Cars drive themselves. Advertisements are holographic. Google Glass-like technology is everywhere. The drive to record everything about one's life is even more prevalent than today. The stream website that is the most popular is called Blink and almost everyone watches and/or records their own Blink streams. Also, weirdos have tech-based enhancements to their bodies to make them stronger, faster, produce electricity, and a whole slew of nightmarish things. I loved all the technology and how it infused every day life. Most of it is a logical evolution of technology we see today or the expansion of present burgeoning technologies.

The characters are full of sarcasm and irreverence and the odds are stacked astronomically high against them. All of the characters are quirky and interesting in their own way. Zoey was just a regular trailer park resident scraping by with her stripper mom. Her self driving car barely works and her cat, while somehow still lovable, is stinky and contrary. Her whole world gets turned upside down with her father's death. People are after her in the first place because of his riches and one mysterious object everyone wants. Zoey went from trailer park girl to the richest, most privileged girl (plus America's most watched) in the course of a few minutes. She's drawn into all of this trouble because of her hated father and she has no choice but to ask his posse of fancy suits for help. I liked Zoey a lot. She doesn't know how to navigate this world and tries her best. I think she should have listened to her fancy suit posse a few times more than she did, but I thought she made pretty good decision throughout. She didn't let the newfound wealth get to her head or alter who she is. I also really liked Will Blackwater, fancy suit posse member and alcoholic extraordinaire. He does whatever it takes to get the task done, but he isn't without humor. His past is dark and twisty plus he doesn't sugarcoat things for anyone.

David Wong is amazing at what he does and I can't stop reading his books. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits is similar in tone to his first series, but sets itself apart with the focus on science fiction and different types of characters. I love this urban fantays/science fiction that he writes. It isn't epic or grandiose and I can see real people living in his books. I will read anything he writes. I'll be reading This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It while he finishes the third John Dies at the End book. Fans of his first series, The Unnoticeables by fellow Cracked writer Robert Brockway, or Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim series will enjoy this book.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

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