This review pains me a fair amount. The words I have to write about this book are not the ones I wish they were.
Let me begin by stating that I'm a huge fan of David Wong and I wanted to love this book.
The new setting and characters he's created for FUTURISTIC VIOLENCE & FANCY SUITS (FV&FS) seem like they could be a lot of fun, so I was ready to follow him on his first novel-length fictional outing sans John and Dave.
That being said, there are signs throughout the book that point to this endeavor as being a rushed production. Both JOHN DIES AT THE END and THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS were uneven in spots - the former particularly so - but the moments of sheer brilliance and hilarity scattered throughout more than made up for the rough prose and bumpy plotholes.
FV&FS has a strong opening, briefly leading me to believe that David Wong had unleashed his inner Douglas Adams; however, the book quickly devolves into a messy collage of lengthy
expository dialogues that are nowhere as sharp or witty as they strive so hard to be.
The book's villains started out as somewhat interesting tech-heavy Mad Max warlord-types, but midway through the characterization became so one dimensional that the baddies morphed into comic book characters straight out of 80's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons. Rocksteady and Bebop would have fit right in with these guys, and seemed to be the inspiration for the cadence of some of the dialogue.
The prose throughout would have benefited from several more rounds of editing. I picked up at least three or four major typos - a small amount to be sure, but more than you'd expect from a wide release from a large publisher. The errors didn't end with typos and spelling, but extended into point of view problems and sudden tense shifts. Even the name of the main city - spelled "Tabula Ro$a" throughout the majority of the book - was spelled randomly as either "Tabula Rosa" or "Tabula Ro$a" towards the end.
All of these quibbles can be excused to a certain extent if the story moves quickly and amuses, but FV&FS strangely spends most of its time watching characters sitting around having discussions: what happened in the past, what they might do in the future, etc. The book is at its best when actual action is being presented, which is regretfully not often - and that really leaves the reader plenty of time to focus on the poor workmanship presented throughout.
There is some fun to be had with the book, but not nearly enough to justify its length. Shaving off 100 pages or so and rewriting the prose until it ceased to sound like direct transcriptions from audio notes may have turned a so-so book into something special, but as-is this book is a flawed experience. Seldom have I read a book that feels like such a last-minute, "weld whatever we've got together by the deadline"rush job, but I'd bet money that's exactly what happened here.
I'm still a David Wong fan, and I'll buy the next book he publishes, but here's hoping the next one is polished more thoroughly before it's released to the public.