Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Murderland I - H8

I'm going a little off topic this post to review an excellent new book. The book is good enough to warrant it, and it's my blog so I'll do what I want!

Murderland I - H8 by Garrett Cook

from Evil Nerd Empire Publishers

Murderland I - H8 is a novel about a time in the not so distant future where serial killers are celebrity athletes. Their exploits are discussed on television as spectator sport. Just as people today rehash the previous evening's game ad naseum, so do people discuss the latest grizzly murder. It's not too far off the mark today with cable channels and websites galore dedicated to detailing true life crime.

The protagonist of this novel is Jeremy - a rather mild mannered pharmacist whose live in girlfriend is obsessed with these celebrity killers - as is most of the rest of society. Jeremy, however, has a secret. He's actually the greatest serial killer ever, and nobody knows it. He's also one of the very few people aware there are Lovecraftian type alien Dark Ones all around us looking for potential hosts for their seed so they can spread their kind across the Earth.

Murderland I - H8 is told mostly through Jeremy's inner dialogue and he is one sick puppy. Author Cook took a great risk choosing to show us events only filtered through such a twisted perspective but he's got the skill to pull it off. Jeremy's inner world is what makes the book so compelling. Jeremy perceives the world around him as a personal Hell - a world gone mad. This simple fact is what pulls us in and makes us accept Jeremy as a sympathetic character even though he's a psychopathic killer. This is what makes the book work.

Cook also has a great ear for language. I found myself reading a great part of this book aloud to myself - it cries out for a voice. The prose flies, never falters. It's an exciting read, a delicate balance between plot development, character details and tidbits about the future society woven together with great care. Its depiction of "Reap society" seems similar to Clockwork Orange, but not overly so. As we learn more about this world, where murdered victim's families are ridiculed for mourning their slain family members we can relate to Jeremy's hatred of much of what he sees around him. This, to me is the great strength of the book - it managed to make me relate to a twisted serial killer who sees evil alien beings all around him and LIKE him.

All in all, the book works on many levels - it's an exciting plot driven read. It's a captivating character study. It has a unique voice. Like all good science fiction it makes a statement about the world today. It's not going to be for everyone- if you're easily offended or if you have no appreciation for the weird- it's not for you. If, however, you enjoy discovering new territory, discovering new voices, enjoy fiction that pushes the envelope, challenges you, then this is right up your alley.

I have a few quibbles. Evil Nerd Empire really needs a proofreader. There were enough mistakes in the text to catch my attention, and that always bugs me. Also, this book is the first volume in a trilogy, and it reads like it. It's mostly exposition. I would have liked just a little more plotwise. Lastly, there's a development right at the end that, to me, seemed unmotivated. These points, I must emphasize, are really minor. None of them detracted from my enjoyment of an excellent first novel. I am eagerly awaiting the next volume in the series.

Publisher's Website:
Evil Nerd Empire

Link to buy on Amazon:
Murderland I H8