I started with this book because I’m a huge comedy fan and I wanted a laugh. I’m also excited because comedies don’t make the finals for SPFBO all too often (although I love when they do) and it was nice to see something light hearted make it in SPSFC!
The opening sequence/prologue is brief, but also necessary because the first quarter or so of the book does not read like a sci-fi, it reads more like a Office Space story centered around a guy down on his luck and miserable with life in general. Duckett hates his job, his car, and most things in his life. The sense of humor in this is definitely leaning towards sarcasm and nihilism. So, the prologue has his friend Stephanie Dyer jumping through a portal, potentially to her death. It’s unclear why she has to, since it is clear she doesn’t want to — but you get the vibes that she’s doing this for a solid reason and then it cuts to the “present”.
So after the prologue Duckett and Dyer are roommates living normal lives with no portals. Duckett and Dyer are opposites and trying to make their friendship still work after almost two decades of being best friends. However, because they are just so polar opposite their friendship is a strained one that could break at any time. One day Duckett is approached by a crazed lady asking for his detective services, waving an ad in his face about Duckett and Dyre “dicks for hire”. He has no idea what’s going on and he gets real mad at Dyer assuming she had been behind it. But, she wasn’t — or so she says, anyway. Things get stranger and stranger as people begin to disappear leaving behind faint smells of ozone.
There’s a second POV I wasn’t totally crazy about. He’s a detective trying to track down these disappearances as well. His name is Calhoon and he’s a police officer/detective that’s been working on a big case for a couple of years that all falls apart at the beginning of his story. I don’t think you’re supposed to like this guy, he’s a borderline alcholic with a rough relationship with his family. He even thinks his daughter has taken after his “bitch of an ex” wishing that his daughter was more like some other woman in the book. I didn’t like him or his chapters so when I got to them the pacing lulled for me — but your mileage may vary on that.
I was just telling my team a few days ago that I love odd couple duos, Kirk & Spock, Kiff & Zap Brannigan, Nanny & Granny — those types of foil-based relationships just do me so right, most of the time. I mostly enjoyed the relationship between Duckett and Dyer. What held me back from loving it was that Dyer reminded me a bit too much of someone who I supported for far too long and so I didn’t quite enjoy her as much as I was supposed to, which sort of spoiled the duo. Stephanie is someone who’s carefree to an extreme. She doesn’t hold a job, doesn’t believe in having a job, which like, okay. But, due to this she has to rely on others for her… everything it seems. A place to live, first and foremost, she essentially couch surfs for free at Duckett’s place.
Even when her backstory came out I wasn’t entirely sure it justifies how far she takes things with her attitude and life choices. There’s an explanation to her extreme carefreeness and the fact that she never takes anything seriously. Whether she redeems herself or not, or whether you find her backstory compelling will definitely vary by the reader. I can easily see arguments made either way, and it was something I found myself thinking about a lot. I think the author’s intent was to make the reader feel like she had a sufficient backstory and then redeeming acts to totally be in her corner, and I can see that argument. I was about 90% sold, instead of 100%. I do find it refreshing that at no point was the shift in their relationship ever romantic. It’s not common to find a true platonic relationship between two hetero people who are opposite sex. I just enjoyed seeing that.
The writing and sense of humor I feel is either going to be a huge selling point for readers, or something that’s going to maybe cause a DNF. The humor is not subtle at all, and with all humor it’s either going to land or it’s not. I’d say more often than not the humor here worked for me, a few times I found myself chuckling, most of the time I just had a smile, sometimes though I did roll my eyes when it crossed over my personal line from funny to too silly/absurd to retain the comedic element for me. Sort of a suspension of disbelief issue if you will — as an example, Duckett went to the maître de at a restaurant to ask after his date and her arrival, and proceeded to ramble to her about his dates beautiful hazel eyes and her love of chocolate, or something to that affect. For me it was too awkward to be plausible dialogue in real life kind of thing. That said, the humor mostly worked for me and I did enjoy my time with it.
I felt like the pacing and plotting started off kind of slower with a long character intro build-up (for it’s length) and then things kind of exploded. Things get fairly crazy and wild by the end making for a whirlwind conclusion. And honestly, I was worried about the loose and seemingly random plotting until I hit around 80 percent through when things started to come together to form a coherent arc rather than a bunch of random happenstances. I wasn’t sure where the score was going to land basically up until the last bit of the book.
Overall, I do recommend this to people looking for a fun time with a wacky duo 😀
- Plot: 12/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Enjoyment: 7/10
Final Score: 75/100