Delicious, chocolate-covered, frozen summer-camp bananas.
This has been on my TBR for quite a while, largely due to the lack of library access. When I saw it on sale, I grabbed it. Recently, I pulled it out of the kindle backlog while on vacation. Though I protest that it is not actually set during the end of the world as we know it, I thought it was a lot of fun and even unexpectedly charming.
Baxter Zevcenko is precocious, with a good head for business. He’s like Alex from Family Ties, if Alex was into managing a porn distribution network for school. He is currently troubled by headaches and violent dreams, and is blaming his autistic brother, Rafe, who has been drawing a series of increasingly violent pictures.
“These dreams always end with people being massacred. It’s like my sleeping brain is constantly set to the History Channel. If all the re-enactments were directed by Quentin Tarantino.”
When his girlfriend disappears, Baxter undergoes a brief crisis of conscience that resolves into Baxter seeking out Ronin.
“I’m pretty sure there are crack dens with better interior design than this place. Ronin looks like he has grown organically from within this apartment like fungus, a human-sized version of something you’d find growing under the sink.”
Baxter is initially skeptical of Ronin’s abilities, but soon finds he’s more than up for most tasks. Baxter is able to contribute as well.
“A guy stumbles past me and I notice an Octogram lanyard peeking out through his jacket. Instinctively I stick my leg out and the guy trips, hitting the ground hard. Ronin raises an eyebrow.”
At one point, Baxter undergoes a character transformation, and after that, I was all in. I love me a smart-mouthed main character with a gooey middle.
“The other is a personality I didn’t even know I had. This is the me that feels. Gross, I know. This me probably attends crystal-healing sessions in my cerebral cortex, believes people are important and almost certainly likes piña colada and getting caught in the rain. He is a flaming metrosexual. I call him MetroBax.”
Potentially triggering for some people, there’s also a lot of mention of porn at the beginning of the book. Baxter has taken to distributing monster-porn in his high school–not because he’s that interested, but because that’s what the market calls for. Interestingly, I found a lot of the mentions about it highly tolerable, as it’s more about describing the business than voyeurism by proxy, but your mileage may vary.
Interestingly, it’s set in South Africa, so it draws upon history and folklore for some of it’s fantasy elements, which makes it more unusual in the urban folklore genre, although it does derail into government-lab problems as well.
It’s a fun story, with some occasional very meta unreliable narrator bits. I thought it also engaging enough to be good for a re-read. There’s sarcastic descriptions that made me laugh and introspective moments that tugged at my sympathies. I finished at the beach, and I really, really wanted to start on the next book, but held out because I was afraid of diminishing returns with our sarcastic teenage lead. However, I won’t make the mistake of letting the next one linger as long. Highly recommended if you like a bit of twisted but redeemable humor.