3 Stars - Recommended to readers who've already read books by the author and the publisher
Publisher: Curbside Splendor
Releasing: Sept 2015
Oh man. This is gonna be hard.
I was reeeeeally excited about the Wensink/Curbside collaboration when I first learned of it. I'd been a fan of Wensink's for a long time, starting back in his early days when he was strictly a bizarro boy - releasing books like Sex Dungeon For Sale! and Black Hole Blues with Eraserhead. And I couldn't have been more happy for him when he literally blew up the small press community as the recipient of one of the nicest cease-and-desist letters from Jack Daniels over the design for his novel Broken Piano for President in 2012.
Now, I don't know Patrick personally and I have no clue if the change from bizarro to a more main-streamy title was the result of his best-sellerhood from that release or his stay-at-home-daddyhood status these past few years, or just some quiet urge to shake off the quirky genre stuff and try his hand at a more literary and straight up story line, and I really don't care. I was just super eager to get my hands on the latest novel because it seemed like a marriage made in heaven and sounded like the logical next-step for Wensink's writing career.
The plot was intriguing. A no-name small town on the verge of bankruptcy faces the threat of being wiped out by a satellite's potential crash-course journey straight at 'em. In the midst of the media frenzy, the town's newly rich bitch goes on a mission to prove she's the only one who can save them. Meanwhile, a sudden maddening hunt to uncover the legendary golden fruit, the legacy of the town's greatest businessman, may end up killing off all the townspeople before that satellite even has a chance to. Oh yeah, and there's a bandaged-wrapped mummy on the loose, handing out gifts and otherwise terrifying those who haven't evacuated town.
Tell me that doesn't scream READ ME.
And read it I did.
Early into the novel, however, I knew it was going to be a struggle. For starters, Patrick introduced us to way too many people all at once. I found myself furiously taking notes on each character as a means to differentiate one from the other for about the first third of the book. He whipped them at us at breakneck speed and there were a A LOT of them!
His chapters were short to begin with - Patrick continuously moved us from sub-plot to sub-plot - and they grew ever shorter the deeper into the book I progressed. Characters began pairing up and splitting off, then reconvening... switching partners over and over again. It was like a literary square dancing session. Sometimes, I swear even Patrick forgot who was running around town with whom because suddenly, two people who I thought were off with other people doing different things no where near each other were now caught up in conversation with each other. At first, I tried to go back and find the spot where I lost the thread, but ultimately I just gave up and moved forward, figuring I'd get back on track sooner or later. And I usually did. And if I didn't, it really didn't matter because they ended up breaking apart and moving on to hook up with someone else somewhere else anyway.
Was it a bad book? No, not at all. I liked the whole chaotic town-in-a-time-of-crisis, can-they-pull-themselves-together-in-the-face-of-catastrophe, or will-they-end-up-pulling-themselves-apart trope.
Could it have been written better? Absolutely. I think this is a style that could be very fitting for Patrick - this humorous tongue-in-cheek look at humanity on the cusp of... something. But I think Patrick is still trying to figure out just how to do it. With a stronger focus on editing and pacing, a slowing down of events, instead of a mad rush of them, might help with that.
Not a great place to start if you are new to both Patrick and the Curbside team. I've read better from both. And I know I don't give out 1/2 stars, but if I did, It'd be teetering on a 2 1/2 more than a 3.