First the good news, then the bad news. Oh, and “flash” might be stretching it this time. These are more like 9 3/4 reviews. Have at ’em.
Timebomb by Scott K. Andrews
Scott K. Andrews is your man for character. In Timebomb, as the School’s Out Forever trilogy I reviewed earlier this year, the protagonists are immediately distinct. They talk differently; they tick differently. Timebomb offers three living breathing people, complete with backstories and quirks and patterns of speech.
Dora, Kaz, and Jana have been thrust together in time via a jarring process that has something to do with the title (one of the plot’s driving questions is what the fuck is pulling them through time and what this timebomb bullshit, once we find out about it, is). While Andrews went for a style-as-experience method here—that is to say, as jarring for the reader to read as for the characters to experience, mirroring the characters’ experience for the reader via the style—I found the sections that jolted and jarred the characters through time too choppy for comfort. While making your readers feel as uncomfortable as your characters is an impressive trick, it is also dangerous. Are any of us really here to feel uncomfortable? In a thriller/page-turner/time travel mystery story with explosions and guns and not a hell of a lot of philosophilcal nuance (though Andrews does make a satisfying comment or two about war), discomfort wasn’t something I was particularly interested in.
The first installment of a trilogy, I find myself wondering whether, depending on what happens next, Timebomb would have become more flavorful when condensed. The pacing left it somewhere short of page-turning where it promised a quicker, more satisfyingly thrilling read. For time travel lovers, a recommendation for a rainy day.
Rating: Three stars. (Which is a fucking good thing but not the best thing goddamnit.)
Lucifer by Alexander Kosoris
Though the concept that God is the CEO of a corporation of angels whose purpose is designing humans, the Earth, etc is kind of cute, from page two I found myself wishing a more practiced writer had tackled it. That Lucifer is vaguely reminiscent of Gaiman and Prachett’s Good Omens only serves to cement the feeling that the har har har God as a CEO and The Bible as a marketing text schtick might have been entertaining, but was not delivering.
It reads smoothly enough. Sort of. I guess. Even though it lingers over inconsequential details while cliff-hopping over vast character developments. Just when Lucifer—the book and the character—start(s) to get interesting, we stop following his every step and zoom in on some marketing department asshat. Oh and did I mention that no women—except for God’s perky pretty secretary of course—work at God’s corporation? (Or was there one with such a short appearance that I missed it entirely? It is possible, though does nothing to improve the situation.) Women are there for Lucifer to oogle or to ask out. No women are involved in the God/Earth project. Fucking hell. LITERALLY. Except Lucifer is going to end up the king of hell, so obviously it is going to be just as sexist and annoying too. I GUESS THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED HELL.
I still might have managed a nice word about—or at least a gentler review of—this book if it weren’t for a particularly disgusting scene near the conclusion in which Lucifer, who is like totally revolutionizing this human project by making humans unique snowflakes (literally, he uses the snowflak design program, which is funny for a few seconds before it becomes incredibly trite), is presenting the results of his human personality project to the managerial team. Of all the scenes that Kosoris could have chose to make his point about human diversity and free will and general shitiness, he decided to show an attempted rape scene. And God is all like, I am totally behind this project, this is just what I wanted from humans. SORRY DUDE, NO GENTLE REVIEW FOR THIS BOOK. Had you picked literally anything else, I might have had a few kind words, might have at least tried to highlight some of the things that Lucifer does right. Instead I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and fantasies about stuffing it into my wood stove.
Rating: I am not even rating this. One star? No stars? Don’t read this book stars?