This was a NetGalley read which I requested primarily because it sounded entertaining. I like books with wacky titles (hence why I got into Tom Holt’s work), and I thought it might have some Douglas Adams-esque humour. You’ll be glad to know this wasn’t an entirely inaccurate impression.
Our protagonist and narrator, Henry Rosetta (or Hank Rose, as he tends to introduce himself) is a foodie. He’s travelling the post-apocalyptic world, dodging nuclear fallout, dancing zombies, and other threats, searching for a decent meal. Though he records his responses in a notebook like most food reviewers probably do, he also encounters dangers they’re unlikely to face, such as hosts that try to kill him and food that literally glows.
The book features a fair amount of the kind of absurdity you’ll find in works by Douglas Adams, Tom Holt, or other humorous writers, but unfortunately it didn’t quite win me over. A lot of the weirdness seems to be weird for the sake of being weird, and while I’m happy to suspend my disbelief — especially when something’s funny — it did stretch my limit in places.
I’m cool with zombies. Even dancing zombies. (Riverdance zombies are apparently more dangerous than moonwalk zombies, though given that Irish dancing doesn’t involve using one’s arms, I’d figure they were easier to disarm. Who knows.) I’m also cool with faceless corporations becoming law enforcers in a destroyed world. I’m cool with preserved libraries and bizarre scientists and radioactivity-damaged creatures who have tentacles and can regenerate. Pirates are fine too. People wearing tables as armour. Whatever.
The only thing is, this book has all of those things, and more besides. After a while I felt like it needed a few more limits, you know?
Hank was a decent enough character, and Zoe, a woman he encounters who is trying to kill a dictator, had potential. She was underutilised, though. Ultimately, Hank saves the day and everyone else just kind of sits around. Not that there’s much to save. His plan is to find good cheese and discover why the nuclear bombs were dropped on Earth, but there’s no real goal, no time limit.
The only tension in the book is from the episodic encounters with various weird creatures, whether they’re zombies or pirates. Other than that, things just kind of … happen.
There were several moments that made me laugh, but on the whole, I’d have to say the book was a bit of a letdown. The plot was too thin on the ground, and the absurdity wasn’t quite funny/original enough to really blow me away and make me forget how weird it was. It helped me pass an enjoyable hour or so while maintenance ripped up my floor and I waited for a Tesco delivery, but beyond that, it’s not likely that I’ll be recommending it to all my friends from the moment it’s released.
(Oh wait, just checked and it came out last month. Okay.)
It gets three stars. It wasn’t a bad book and there wasn’t much that was actually wrong with it, but it didn’t quite hit the spots.