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A friend of mine asked if I would like to review her book, and I said yes. A dystopian post-pre-apocalyptic sci-fi buddy cop (without cops) comedy action mystery thriller, Grimbargo by Laura Morrison is ridiculous at the best of times and hopping mad at its worst. So here’s the spoiler free, in-depth breakdown.
Background and Lores
“It’s 2054, and there has been a death.
The first death in ten years.
And there will be more before too long, unless Jackie Savage and Jamie Nguyen–two exceptionally under-qualified gals–can complete their dangerous and vague mission.
Too bad they aren’t exactly sure how.
As they blunder through Kyoto, running from evil scientists, hired thugs, rogue AI, and a cyborg raven, they get closer and closer to discovering a plot to take the future out of the hands of humanity. But even if they decipher their place in the puzzle, will they be any match for ruthless scientists and artificial intelligence with agendas of their own?
Short answer: no. But maybe things will end up OK anyway. Right?”
The Greywash is an event where a sci-fi tech of some form or another removed people’s ability to die or age. It’s a dystopian society in a post apocalyptic world where, surprisingly, everyone is alive. A refreshing take on both genre and theme that I absolutely adore and makes me want to know more about the world the story lives in. I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of a world where people cannot die that is treated as a casual Ragnarok scenario.
The sci-fi portion of the world will, inevitably, drive hard-fiction readers like myself insane with its loopholes and flaws. But so long as you do not take this comedy-ish work too seriously and level your suspension of disbelief, it is an absolutely fascinating universe.
The overall plot is expectant. Heroes discover conspiracy plot to destroy world, tries to save world. Nothing wrong with that. I just wanted to point out that there’re no real twists here, aside from the twists planted in the story itself. There are no real overarching plots, and most of the mysteries are revealed at the halfway mark. If you’re used to thrillers, actions, or mysteries, and are looking for something that blows minds, Grimbargo is not the book for you. Total score for this segment?
I don’t have many qualms about the book, but what I do have are mostly aimed at the characters themselves. Everyone borders a fine line of being professionals of the highest order and a question of how they get out of bed in the morning without hurting themselves. There are guards who are intimidating but weak; Scientists who can dissect bodies but not add up the obvious; and reporters who can get any story by being completely incompetent.
Characters always teeter on being likeable and completely frustrating. For a moment, you’d have a wonderfully written, witty string of dialogue, only for someone to say, “I don’t have time to answer you.” And sure, comedy is best done in threes, but on the tenth attempt at it, I’m only screaming, “Yes! Yes you do have time! Just tell her what she needs to know and skip all the drama, you insufferable twit!” It was funny the first couple of chapters, but as the story neared the end and the incompetency continued, I simply got annoyed, and the only ones that made sense then was a suicide junkie. Most of the laughs I got were from the witty banters, which is a shame, because the overwhelming annoyance in personalities undermined just how clever and funny some of the dialogues were.
As a character in the story says, “This is your job, Wharton. Your job. If you cannot do your job, I fail to comprehend why I am paying you.” So all-in-all, I think 5 points off the starting 15 for this section is fair.
Flow and Pacing
As this is not a book by a major publishing house, I expected a level of mistakes, as I do with my own self-published works, and I will give a minor publisher leeway. Sure enough, there were 20 glaring editorial errors that broke the flow of reading. Morrison used POV switching between the two main characters. There is a point early on in the story around chapter 4 when both sides meshed together, so not much is lost on the flow of reading. Two thumbs up for the superb POV switching. So, out of my 15 points system, I’ll take off 2 for the errors and give 1 for the POV switching.
Honestly, between the ruckus and chuckles, the themes got a little lost on me. There were bouts of environmentalism, gender equality, freedom of thought, and generational nihilism. There’s a good portion of a chapter dedicated to an inner monologue about how the bad often had more power than the good, and a bit about the little man versus the elites and wealthy. It’s the old working David versus rich Goliath spiel. It was confusing at times but I do see the point, and it did get me to stop and think. And the fact that I stopped to think meant the work is half done.
In short, Grimbargo revels in its own confusion, and pays off well, in a very baffling way. I think the phrase that describes the book is best summed up in the book itself. This is vitreous humour.
Grimbargo by Laura Morrison: A sexy 69% approval