Book Review – Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

Bloggos,

Welcome to the first book review of July! I am super excited about this review, mainly because it is my first time writing about my thoughts on an Advanced Reader Copy, known colloquially as an ARC. Thanks to working in a library and being homies with the Collection Development Librarian, I can raid her ARC shelf anytime I’d like, and finally one caught my eye.

Now, if you follow me on Goodreads or Twitter then you probably saw all kinds of weird comments from me about this book as I slowly worked my way through it. I did my best to keep my posts and thoughts spoiler-free, and I will endeavor to do the same here.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kill the Farm Boy

 

Kill the Farm Boy releases in the US on July 17, 2018! You can still preorder a copy from Amazon or through your local, preferred retailer. Thanks to Edelweiss and Emily Byers for access to this ARC.

*A/N: I really wanted to give this book 3.5 stars, but the Goodreads rating system does not allow for it. So, I decided to round up because I liked the book more than I didn’t.

I have not read any of Dawson’s or Hearne’s books before, and after reading this book I think that’s a mistake I need to rectify. If you haven’t gathered from the title, cover, and tagline on the book, Kill the Farm Boy is a comedy. And I think it’s a pretty successful one at that. Humor is such a tricky thing to write well, because what an audience finds funny is so incredibly subjective.

Gustave
The look of a goat with a desperate craving for old boot leather.

I personally love puns and wordplay. I chuckle at the occasional dick joke. A talking goat calling his human companion “Pooboy” is funny to me. An aspiring Dark Lord who really just wants to be a food critic and whose magic always results in some sort of unexpected bread product is delightful. A rogue who trips over her own feet and blames the chickens is hilarious. Judge me as you will, but I make no apologies.

But, its more sophomoric tendencies aside, Kill the Farm Boy actually touches on some bigger themes and topics, like what constitutes ‘family’ and who your herd is, and pokes fun at the failings of crony capitalism and corporate governance. I think the commentary, though slim, is fitting and pertinent to American readers today.

In all of these ways, I think Kill the Farm Boy is very successful. I loved all of the characters, and the world of Pell is very well thought out and often tragically (read: hilariously) named.

Where it struggles is in the pacing. It took over a month to read this book, and while that was not all the book’s fault (mental health can be a bitch), the meandering plot didn’t exactly compel me to pick it up, either. I think there were some jokes that the story could have sacrificed to tighten up the plot a bit more, but at the same time, I enjoyed those side plots and jokes quite a bit.

Big takeaway #1: When I opened this book, I always enjoyed myself. I just didn’t feel the urge to open it very often.

I do think that the next book, for Kill the Farm Boy is the first in a planned series, may suffer less from the plodding sensation, since there’s less character introduction and “personal quests” to be done. I’m thinking this was the big introduction, and that from here things may streamline.

Big Takeaway #2: I will read the second book. I liked this one enough to give a sequel a shot.

So, I’d say, if you’re up for a laugh, and don’t want to take anything too seriously, give this book a try. But, I’d recommend giving yourself plenty of time, maybe whilst vacationing on a nice sandy beach, surrounded by glittering crabs and mai tais? Because this book is definitely a leisure read.

Speaking of leisure, I spent my entire day off sitting on the couch reading Midnight Riot from cover to cover. It was lovely. I’ll be back later in the week to tell you all about it!

Until then,

 

BZ

 

Book Review- Redshirts by John Scalzi

I finished Redshirts night before last. I’ve already moved on to my next read, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and picked up a novella called Purple and Black by K.J. Parker. But, now isn’t the time for them. Now is the time to talk about Redshirts.

You’ve been warned. There might be spoilers ahead.
Redshirts_Cover

I think I have to start by telling you that this book is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. The things that characters are put through, and the science (read “lack thereof”) they have to implement to save themselves is preposterous. And it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s downright hilarious.

Now, if you know even a little about Star Trek: The Original Series, affectionately known as TOS, you know about Redshirts. Those poor souls who follow the main characters to away missions, only to die in painful and shocking ways. And they’re always in the red uniforms of the science department. Poor sods.
expendability

Scalzi’s novel, Redshirts, tells the story of Ensign Andy Dahl, a xenobiologist recently assigned to the star ship Intrepid. Andy discovers, within moments of being on board, that something odd is happening on the ship.

Higher ranking personnel keep a low profile, and hide when they see any of the ship’s officers. They even seem to have a warning system, that allows them to conveniently disappear right before one of the Intrepid’s officers enters the room.

And the away missions? Well, someone, some poor, low man on the totem pole, dies every time. And it’s never a peaceful or unassuming death. It’s Ice Sharks, Borgovian Land Worms, and defense robots wielding giant spears.

And even though someone dies, one particular officer, Lieutenant Kerensky, always finds himself horribly injured or ill, on the brink of death. Naturally, the science teams are tasked with finding cures to diseases that make no sense, and are urged to come up with antedotes and cures that make even less sense. So much so that there is a box kept in xenobiology, that looks oddly reminiscent of a microwave, that will literally cook the problem, until it dings, providing impossible data with moments to spare, conveniently saving Kerensky every time.

And this is just the basic intro to Scalzi’s novel. This is the foundation.

Andy and his friends refuse to accept the way things are on the Intrepid. So, they hunt down the only person who might know what’s happening. A recluse, who lives in the cargo tunnels, named Jenkins. He has his own sad back story involving a dead wife, but I’ll talk about that later.

Together, Dahl and Jenkins realize that the only other spacecraft in the history of the universe to experience so many crew casualties is the Starship Enterprise, from Star Trek: The Original Series. Therefore, they theorize that they, too, must be on a science fiction television show.

It gets pretty meta from here.

In order to save themselves from gruesome and pointless deaths, Dahl and Company devise a plan to go back in time to the year 2012, find the writers and producers of the show, and beg them to stop killing off random ensigns.

Yes, it’s ridiculous. That’s the point.

Anyway, using the preposterous “science” outlined in a previous “episode” that featured time travel, Dahl and his friends make it safely to 2012. Once there, they hunt down multiple actors, all who look exactly like themselves, and devise a plan to fix the show. And save their lives.
redshirts en francais

I don’t want to get into too many details, because the last 75 pages or so of the main story are just wonderful. And even though I warned you about spoilers, I don’t have the heart to butcher them here. If you really want to know what happens, read the book.

It’s a wonderfully quick read. The dialogue is snappy, and often foul-mouthed. The narration and dialogue are both witty and dry, and I laughed out loud, a lot.

But, what really surprised me about this book was the last hundred pages. After the main story is done, and you know what becomes of Dahl and his friends, there is a series of three Codas: First Person, Second Person, and Third Person.

Each Coda follows one of the “side characters” from the past. The Writer of the show, the Producer’s son, and the woman who played Jenkin’s wife. And each of them, though still witty, still dry, left me feeling awed.

Each Coda uses this crazy, hyper-meta scenario of a book to point out how fictional characters can have very real impacts on our lives. It shows, in a subtle and emotional way, how stories and their characters can force us to see the world differently, and even see ourselves, and our place within that world, differently.

They’re calmly powerful moments, shared in different points of view, that help ground the ridiculous main story, and give the previous 230 pages some real meaning.

I didn’t see it coming, but I loved each one.

This is a wonderful book. It’s hilarious, and the characters are immediately identifiable. You care about them all very quickly. The story reads fast, mainly because there’s no world building. Scalzi doesn’t waste time telling you what the Intrepid looks like. We already know. Whether you’re a fan or not, you’ve been exposed to enough Science Fiction for your mind to conjure up a basic space ship.

And that lack of world building really cuts down on the need for exposition, speeding up the reading process.

If you’re even slightly interested in science fiction, I’d recommend this book. It’s a feel good story, quick to read, and it will make you laugh. Guaranteed.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! I’ll see you soon, Blogland!

BZ