Reminiscent of the edgy, offbeat humor of Chris Moore and Matt Ruff, the first entry in a whimsical, fast-paced supernatural series from the New York Times best-selling author of the Sandman Slim novels - a dark and humorous story involving a doomsday gizmo, a horde of baddies determined to possess its power, and a clever thief who must steal it back...again and again.
It's 22,000 BC. A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He's going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn't get to do fieldwork, and if he does well, he's certain he'll get a big promotion.
And now it's time....
The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity's doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.
It's 2015. A thief named Coop - a specialist in purloining magic objects - steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn't know that his latest job could be the end of him - and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of The Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn't just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.
It's a doomsday device. They think....
And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.
©2016 Richard Kadrey (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
Funny, good story
All of the parts about the cultists, especially the bake sales :)
Made me laugh.
Really enjoyed this. Listened to it at work and had everyone asking me what was so funny.
"thinks it is funnier than it is"
there are very few laugh out loud moments here. the plot contains some food for thought. I cannot for the life of me figure out what the hero and heroine saw in each other. there is quite a bit of extra characters that only seemed looped in to make the climax scenes more complicated. not as good as others in this genre but not terrible.
"Everything not for Everyone"
Amidst the rave reviews, I'm not sure whether it takes courage or stupidity to publish such an opposing view--but I thought it might help those that venture into genres they wouldn't usually look at when all the reviews are so positive and guarantee you'll "love this book." Cuz I didn't; but I have a friend that hates chocolate and says it taste bitter to her, so I completely understand not liking a sure thing. This type of *absurd fiction* is out of my personal preference zone, though I have enjoyed Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman, and some Terry Pratchett. Based on great reviews and a summary that sounded promising,, I visualized it as a comic fantasy detective story, clever and innovative due to no restraints other than the author's imagination in such a genre.
Sadly, I thought the book didn't deliver on any level. Kadrey seemed comfortable treading a small unimaginative circle in an immense universe of possibility. I re-read all of the editorial reviews when I finished and wondered if I had read the same book. The humor hit me as flat, scripted, dorky -- anything but hip and creative. *Dumb people* jokes (let's call it naiveté or the *buh*dum*ching jokes) and clichés work okay in movies like Ghost Busters, Beetlejuice, etc., but don't transfer well to the written word, in my experience, and the narrator's delivery lacked a comedian's punch-line timing that would have at least given the allusion of absurd comedy. On the whole, the book reminded me of a Seth Rogen/James Franco movie without the stoner jokes or outrageousness -- that is, unless you count the kid that keeps calling his master "exalted dark high one" instead of "exalted high dark one" ?. In a diverse cast of characters, ranging from little school-girl vamps (yawn) to arch angels and puffer-fish demons, the whole motley crew was surprisingly flat (and not in a good way like Road Kill Man in Beetlejuice).
I've never read any of the author's Sandman Slim novels, but am not compelled to do so after this. I felt like the author had everything at his disposal, but kept what could've been a hugely fun and creative story stuffed into a tiny little boring box. I really disliked this one immensely -- I kept saying that to myself the whole time I listened. Nothing here for me, but I hope I've expressed my personal reasons as to why without offending anyone who did--or might--enjoy this type of read.
"Fun, but not memorable "
It was a fun listen. The storyline was not quite what I'd hoped. Fun, but not memorable. The narrator did a good job, nicely capturing the slapstick humor. But if you are expecting the acerbic wit and mayhem of the early Sandman Slim novels, this isn't it.
"Hoping this is the start of a new series!"
Remember those movies that had a huge cast of characters all vying for the same prize? It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World? The Cannonball Run?
This book is like that...except it's wittier...and snarkier...and has supernatural creatures, magic, interdimensional microwaves, end of the world bakes sales and burritos. It's laugh out loud hilarious.
Oliver Wyman does a superb job. It's a pleasure to listen to him. Each character has a unique voice and the subtle nuances of their dialog is captured beautifully, so much so that several exchanges in the story had me grinning, then struggling, and failing, to maintain my composure in the quiet office environment where I work.
***WARNING***Anyone that does not like religious icons lampooned or religion on the whole treated with a tongue in cheek irreverence should avoid this book...and anything else written by Richard Kadrey.
"Unbelievable First Chapter but...."
The first chapter is one of the best I've ever read; funny, captivating, clever. From then on it just got more and more boring with a few witty comments here and there. I couldn't finish it. Maybe just not my kind of book.
"Everyone wants the box"
This is a funny story of several groups of bumblers all in search of the same prize. A box that will destroy the world. It's laugh out loud hilarious, as we get a good look into each searcher and their journey. It somewhat reminds me of a Carl Hiaasen caper done urban fantasy style, and of course all the loose ends tie together eventually.
"Over use of simile"
I found the idea of this one quite promising. The execution, not so much. Kadrey's constant need to include "clever" smilies steadily brought the story down to the point that I had to give up.
"Entertaining and funny"
Oliver is a great story reader. I have enjoyed all of his work. The everything box was cleverly written and riddled with a lot of humor. I really enjoyed it.
"Not worth the listen"
Normally I'm a fan of Richard kadrey's material, at least the Sandman Slim series, but I this one just seems forced. You will listen to the first half hour, think, "wow this is so cheesy. This isn't even good." And you'll be correct.
The only redeeming quality is that the plot is structured in a clever way, to where things are happening to different people all at the same time, and it's interesting how the paths criss-cross throughout the book. So, that's cool.
But honestly don't waste your time here.
"Nice narration for a mediocre book"
This is just a quick little review to warn Kadrey fans this is no SMS!
I thought Kadrey's Sandman Slim series was pretty darn good (though the dumb tough-guy act got a little old), enjoyed books by A. Lee Martinez (very amusing), and loved the Johannes Cabal series (by J.L. Howard). So, I thought that another dose of dark humor with a supernatural bent would be fun. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by this tale.
The Story [D+...maybe C- if I'm feeling generous]: At its heart is a story about a jailbird offered a chance for a big score, which leads to mishaps and a bit of a mystery as he gets wrapped up in a special criminal investigations division. While the idea has obviously been done a few times before, it still has potential. But frankly, I just got plain sick of the book. A Sandman Slim-esque bad-boy/tough-guy main character is only one among the many many MANY characters who seem to do nothing but trade "witty" quips (and calling them witty is either being sarcastic or being kind), insults, and silly one-liners perhaps meant to reflect their sang-froid. Each chapter was just a seemingly endless series of these exchanges. Regardless of whether it was meant to make fun of the Noir genre or pay homage to it, I think it just went too far with the back-and-forth "zingers" that would make an occasional appearance in better movies/books. The plot and pace just get lost in these silly little exchanges; and I felt like, after enough of them, each one got to be akin to being bludgeoned about the head with a club that reads "This character is a smart-ass bad-boy who doesn't give a flying fig!" After a while, I just couldn't bring myself to finish it.
The Narration [A-]: Oliver Wyman did a very nice job with pace, tone, and enunciation throughout the narration. Wyman also did a great job with the voice acting, making each character distinct, and emulating various states of intoxication in some cases, without ever falling into campy caricatures. While not being as fully immersive as some voice actors (e.g. George Newbern) or hitting that perfect tone (e.g. R.C. Bray), I think that Wyman did a very nice job.
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