I read and reviewed Don’t Eat The Glowing Bananas a little while ago, so when I was approached to do the same with this, I agreed. That said, I think it suffered from some of the same problems as the first book by Hammons that I read — it needs to be funnier to get away with a lot of its weirdnesses, and unfortunately falls short.
In this case, though, that may well be a matter of personal taste. The ‘dating service’ aspect of the title contributes a fair amount to the plot (the protagonist really does work for a supernatural dating service run by Rasputin — yes, that Rasputin, no, I don’t get it either), and a lot of the humour revolves around innuendo and so on. While there’s nothing too graphic or explicit, it stands to reason that as an asexual person who finds pretty much anything to do with sex either weird or boring, I didn’t find a lot of that very funny, and that may well not be the case for other readers. Though I would imagine some would find it a little bit juvenile.
This book is EXTREMELY weird, though. I can’t really overstate how weird it is, but I can tell you the fact that Rasputin runs a dating service and literally never wears trousers is about the most normal thing that happens in it — oh, and he insists on being called Love Machine. There are a lot of supernatural creatures, a lot of weird governmental systems set up to look after them and/or add paperwork to their lives, and a lot of bizarre scenarios resolved by stuffed animals or stripping. Thankfully, those two aren’t generally combined.
If I’d got on better with the humour, I could see myself enjoying this book a fair amount — I like fantasy that doesn’t take itself seriously, and this is definitely one of those books. Sadly, I don’t think it made me laugh aloud even once, and that’s a bit of a no-go for a book that’s so obviously meant to be funny. My sense of humour leans more towards the sarcastic and cutting rather than the slapstick and innuendo, and this book was at that end of the scale.
I also found aspects of the book a bit confusing — there were places where a lot of very weird stuff was happening at once, and I couldn’t entirely follow all of it, which I generally solved by pushing on until things got onto more normal territory and then picking up the story from there. That might just be my Cambridge-melted brain, though.
One thing I noticed that I couldn’t quite pin down for ages was that this book is extremely American. It’s all federal this, federal that, here’s an eagle and some guns and by the way America is the only place that recognises supernatural creatures as people (never mind that the US doesn’t exactly have the greatest track record with accepting HUMANS who might not fit into certain social groups, let alone creatures who aren’t actually human at all) because the US is the best didn’t you know? I guess with everything that’s going on in the news at the moment, I’m just feeling more than ever that America is severely overrated, and so quite a bit of the patriotism in this book got on my nerves. It’s not something I remember noticing about Hammons’ other book, either, so it was a little bit odd.
(For the record, it’s not that I think Britain is any better. It’s just that every Brit I know is severely self-deprecating and will readily admit that the country’s going to pot, and insulting the Prime Minister is basically a national pastime. From what I can tell, America is literally the only country that believes itself to be the best — the rest of the world is a lot more ready to insult itself and admit to problems, and literally no one else says a pledge of allegiance every morning what the hell America that’s SO FREAKING WEIRD stop being so disproportionately patriotic)
(I’m sorry. The news at the moment is getting me down and I can’t stop it from creeping into my book reviews. I’ll stop dissing the US now and go back to the book.)
One thing I did like about this book was that the main antagonist was a neckbeard “nice guy” who felt rejected and was now destroying everything as a result, because hey, it’s always fun to see that kind of person cast as a villain. That said, it was neither the most subtle nor the best portrayal of someone like that in a villain’s role that I’ve come across, and I felt like parts of it bordered too much on the stereotypical to be convincing. I realise the exaggeration was a part of the humour, but I felt it took something away from the book in that respect. But still. Cast all neckbeards as villains 2k17, right?
On the whole, then, I felt this book needed to be funnier to get away with the level of weirdness it contained, and it didn’t quite do it for me in that sense. There was a bit too much innuendo of the juvenile sort a 12-year-old might find funny, and not enough that was genuinely witty.
That said, there were some good points, and some aspects of the book were entertaining, so it’s getting 2.5*s. And I’ll round that up to 3 instead of down to 2 because I’m nice and because I feel bad about dissing America as I feel like I’m going to get offended comments because of that.
Whoops. I’m gonna just take my British self away now…