Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim kicks ass. I mean, the protagonist literally left the text and physically kicked me in my ass. Yeah, it’s that much fun.
James Stark spent 11 years killing monsters in Lucifer’s arena for the entertainment of fallen angels, but now he’s back in seedy, magic-riddled L.A., trying to avenge his girlfriend’s murder and hunt down Mason Faim, the black magician responsible for getting him sent downtown. After that it really starts to get interesting.
I found the book to be a fantastic read. If I went to the beach, this would have been my beach book for the past two days and then I would have had to found something else as I had a real hard time putting it down. It’s the first book I’ve read in a long time that’s compelled me to stay up well past a sensible hour reading.
Kadrey’s L.A. is a grim, noir-esque landscape populated with supernatural entities and magic. His landscapes and his characters aren’t just gritty, they’re sand in your favorite sandwich gritty. You can feel every bite but you sure as hell don’t want to stop eating. I’m holding back the urge to swear right now in emulation of his style.
Stark is a purpose driven monster in human form who you and I can sympathize with – that’s probably the best way I’ll be able to describe our protagonist. He was a magic using street punk and now he’s a magic using street punk who’s spent the last 11 years as the only living human in Hell. He has a beef with his once friends who sent him there in the first place and then murdered the love of his life.
Kadrey’s book is full of biting humor, and fun scenes that would be completely at home on the silver screen as well. The plot moves quickly and I found myself rooting for the least bad guy. I’m not really sure there are any good guys in this book.
Therein lies the major flaw – Stark is an anti-hero and as such seems to adhere to every stereotype that goes along with that title. Think Bruce Willis playing a cop and you’ll know what I mean. It’s not a deal killing flaw though. I’ll read this book again and enjoy the hell out of it, just like I enjoy the Die Hard movies.
It’s somewhat typical of the modern urban-fantasy scene that the characters are archetypal. Sandman Slim just strips the archetypes down to their base matter and Kadrey runs with that. If you can look past the over-the-top obvious/platonic characters and just enjoy this book for a fun romp through an L.A. that never was, you’ll enjoy the hell out of it as well.
[tags]scifi, fantasy, literature, sandman slim[/tags]