REVIEW SUMMARY: A book whose main appeal is the writing style.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A young, hip urbanite meets a mysterious woman who is searching for a mystical, magical artifact.
PROS: Engaging and funny writing style.
CONS: A couple of times that same writing style got in the way.
BOTTOM LINE: Excellently written urban fantasy that engages the reader.
I’ve always extolled the virtues of writing using Theodore Sturgeon as my favorite example. Sturgeon’s writing just does something for me. It’s concise, conveys feeling, advances plot and it’s just plain fun. His writing style never fails to elicit a smile.
Cool beans, John. But what does that have to do with The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad?
Mister Faust’s first novel was released in 2004 to rave reviews, made some “Best of 2004” lists and thus caught my attention. From page one, I was instantly enjoying the writing in the same way I enjoy Sturgeon’s writing. It’s not like you’re reading something someone has written – it’s more like you’re listing to what someone is saying. This makes for a very engaging book. (You can read a PDF excerpt on Mister Faust’s website.)
The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad is an urban fantasy in which two close friends, Hamza and Yehat, get involved with a mysterious woman named Sherem. Sherem’s mystique is just enough to get Hamza out of his four-year funk after an unexpected breakup with his girlfriend. What Hamza does not know is that Sherem is looking for a mystical and magical artifact (a jar) that is the key to saving mankind. Fortunately, Hamza’s uncanny ability to find things can be of great service to her. Unfortunately, a gang of really nasty bad guys calling themselves the FanBoys also seek the jar.
This plot is standard fare but, like I said, it’s how the author delivers it that is the main appeal of the book. The prose is infused with 80’s and 90’s pop-culture references to Star Wars, Star Trek, comics, music, gaming and other geek trivia. I loved those parts. The dialogue, especially from the wisecracking heroes, is made up of lots of ultra-hip, made-up-on-the-spot language that also adds to the fun. It did grow tiresome at times (like when it seemed to be dome for the sake of ranting instead of advancing the plot) but overall it was entertaining. I guess Theodore Sturgeon still retains the number one position.
The characterizations of Hamza and Yehat were very well done. They’re quite likable. It doesn’t hurt that they run an informal, part-time summer camp for the neighborhood kids. What a bunch of swell guys! Hamza was not entirely believable as the hero, though. It wasn’t until halfway through the book that he even knew something bizarre was going on, making him more a late-blooming hero.
Other characterizations were good too, although there were more FanBoy characters than were needed. The rival Meaney brothers (Heinz & Kevlar – old high school buddies) added a bit of drama and back-story to Hamza’s breakup with Rachael. The Meaney brothers have more than a peripheral involvement when their antique business receives an artifact used to help locate the jar. And their use of the “cream” drug to heighten awareness was enjoyably creepy.
The book’s chapters were relatively short. Each one is written in the first-person viewpoint of one of the characters and thankfully it was not difficult to tell who was speaking. However, there was one FanBoy named Alpha Cat – nobody in this book has a simple name like “Bob” – whose faux Jamaican accent required more effort to wade through than I wanted to devote to it. Luckily, there were very few pages with this character’s voice.
In the end, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad is a good read. This is an excellently written urban fantasy that engages the reader.