Have you ever come home after a hard days work to find a large troll has taken over your apartment? Do you feel like you’re not getting enough bang for your buck from your current deity? Are the selfish whims of a powerfully depressed lesser-god interfering with your ability to make or serve coffee? Probably not, right? Actually, if any of this applies to you, then please stop reading this blog and go sort your shit out. However, if you’d like to find out how the characters in Monster and Divine Misfortune deal with these sort of annoyances then you need to go read the very fun novels of A. Lee Martinez.
Chudd previously wrote a post about how we came across one of his stock vector illustrations on the cover of Divine Misfortune. Every time I see the fist on the book cover I think, holy shit! I was there when Chudd made that! I don’t know why that impresses me so much, but hell, I’m also easily impressed by shiny things I find under my couch cushions. What’s even more impressive still (nice lead in, eh?) is how much I really enjoyed Martinez’s novels. No joke. Serious. I’m not trying to blow smoke up your ass or kiss the writer’s ass here. No ass play at all going on here. These books are good goofy fun, mixed with an interesting take on themes that use magic and the supernatural.
One of things I like most about Martinez’s writing is how he throws the reader right into the middle of the weirdness from the very beginning. On the first page of Monster, the character Judy, a late night grocery store clerk, discovers a Yeti munching down all the ice cream from the store’s freezer. It kind of reminded me of a haagen dazs munching friend of ours. Of course, I had to keep reading.
The humor is witty, dry, and reminds of one of my all time favorite books, Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers. Things only get worse for Judy as she is later harassed by creatures far worst than Yeti, but that brings me to the second thing I like about Martinez’s books, The women aren’t wimps.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a card caring male chauvinist (where the hell did I put that card anyways…?) but I don’t like stories where women are two dimensional side kicks just waiting around for the hero to save them from some deadly evil peril of doom… or something. There wasn’t any of that in either of the two books I read (at least that wasn’t called out by the characters themselves).
In Divine Misfortune, the main female characters are often just as witty and capable as their male counterparts. Even (in the case of Bonnie) if that goal is only to escape the life threatening depression of a clingy goddess, the girls of these books remain interesting and stay active in solving their own problems. Going back to Judy and the first chapter of Monster, (SPOILER ALERT) It’s Judy herself who saves her own life from a charging Yeti by way of a magical baseball bat. A great piece of action in a book full of exciting ups and downs. Kinda like a literary roller coaster.
The male characters are a great read too, of course. Of the two books, the characters of Monster and Lucky had this great sort of slacker charm that made you like and dislike them at the same time. Lucky, a sort of easy going (mooch) of a god, was a great blend of easy going and self confident yet slightly narcissistic, which made him all the more enjoyable. While Monster, though sort of an Asshole, quickly became the lovable grump that I feel is easy to root for in a story. Monster has his dick-ish moments but he pays for them in full by way of devil possessed “phone” dolls, having to change skin color every day (blue one day, orange the next, etc…), and a girlfriend who is also a demon from hell.
There isn’t a lot of negative things I have to say about either book, other than I wish there were more to read. I liked the characters of Lucky and Monster and I hope to see them in future novels. And although a real literary critic might be able to pounce on these books and shred them apart with all their scorching “English-Studies Major” super-powers, I (a mostly normal human) really enjoyed them. They entertained me and held my interest. Check’em out if you get a chance, or, if you’re lucky, bum one off a friend who has already purchased a copy and promise to return it knowing full well you never will. Free books and naive friends are awesome!