Go Mutants! A retro-future, teen angst, mutant love story

Go Mutants! by Larry Doyle

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Ecco (June 22, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061686557
ISBN-13: 978-0061686559

Go Mutants! arrived on my doorstep not to long ago and I was, on opening the package, immediately struck by two facts.  Fact #1 – James Dean with a giant brain and no hair.  Fact #2 – Oh my god I never new it but I’ve been waiting for this book for years!

If I had to describe this book in one word, I’d use the word “romp” because that’s what it is.  Like a happy puppy it runs through B-movie camp, teen angst, singing the blues like you mean it and countless references to the pop culture of a bygone age.

Oh, and the guy who wrote it, Larry Doyle apparently works as a writer  for some cartoon and wrote another book which was made into a movie.  And check out the website for the book. It has a movie too.

This book is not just fun. It’s really fun. It’s a plain old good read, but also pulls on the heart strings of anyone who’s ever been a hydrocarbon slurping, blue skinned, oily residue producing, overly large brained alien.  And who amongst us hasn’t produced an oily residue at some time in their teen years?

Doyle starts us of with typical teen angst mutant story and immediately and then continuously inserts so many references to pop culture of the past that by chapter three we take it as a given that some movie monster we know and love will rear it’s ugly head.  Trust me though, this is a good thing because Doyle has a deft hand when it comes to it.  Sometimes I didn’t realize I was absorbing a reference until I was half a page further on and had a “wait a minute” moment.

But wait, isn’t there a story here too?  Of course there is!  We follow J!m (not pronounced “Jim”)  the blue skinned, oil emitting alien mentioned above.  J!m is a prototypical high school outcast, modeled after a certain movie star who’s name rhymes with Waynes Steen.  J!m has to deal with a girl who loves him but he can’t ask out, a host of school bullies, anti-alien leanings, friends who are either irradiated or are constructed from sentient jelly and more.

What more you ask?  It just so happens that J!m’s father (deceased) was the alien who initiated contact and tried to destroy the world.

Our backdrop is Manhattan High and the town of Manhattan itself.  The high school is your typical high school and the town of Manhattan is your typical B-movie SciFi setting.  Busy town, corn fields for the horrible bits, a giant “MANHATTAN” sign.

Taking place in a future past that never was, we have the PLEX which broadcasts information and power (mostly in the form of advertising), moving sidewalks that never quite work for J!m, a small army of sentient lawn gnomes, super-intelligent robot gardeners, and all of the technology we as a people were promised in the 50’s but still hasn’t quite arrived.  The nuclear age gone horribly, horribly right.

Even the book itself is a drive in theater feature of sorts.  Each chapter begins in classic SciFi movie style with huge, electrified fonts proclaiming overly generic lines.  It works quite well with Go Mutants!

Bottom line – if you’re looking for a fun read this summer you’ve found it.  You will enjoy Go Mutants! not just for the plot and characters which are both well put together, but also for the shear joy of hunting down references to movies, monsters and SciFi pop-culture.  It’s not a book that will change your world but you’ll enjoy reading it none the less.  Go get it.

[tags]scifi, go mutants, review, literature, larry doyle[/tags]

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