Review of a Book I Swear I Think I Did Not Write: Jeremy Robert Johnson’s ‘Skullcrack City’ (2015)

What a perfect opportunity for an existential crisis! I’ll take a dozen! I discovered this book as I was figuring out my author page through Amazon, and Amazon was like, hey, you wrote this too, right? I looked at the cover and thought… I think so? Firstly, it’s a similar cover design:

vess cov
Mine (pretty sure). Props to Dave Ravenberg.
skullcrack
Not mine (pretty sure). Props to Jeff Sotto, whose art I have all over my office and home.

Blurbs by Chuck Palahniuk and David Wong- a couple of my faves, see previous reviews.

Skullcrack City is futuristic sci-fi splatterlit with all sorts of fun weapons and even a fancy future drug, to which we shall owe the apocalypse. So because of the author name, and cover art, blurbs, and back description, I’m thinking I’m the wrong Jeremy Johnson; this is exactly something I might right. YES, of course, I’m bringing a lot of my own shit into this one; fraud complex, insecurity, creative jealousy, etc. To be fair I bring this shit to ALL the books I read, but rarely is it so justified.

It starts out as a corporate satire, like JPod, dude works at the bank, trying to take it down from the inside (he says to himself). Then bad decisions lead to mayhem, fringe characters, and mad scientist super-villain. It’s like Snow Crash then also Neuromancer (I know I know I know), but still remaining its own weird thing.

There are surprises throughout, excellent deaths caused by hey-what-does-this-do weapons, funny lines that work, and an excellent pet turtle (which is the main character’s most redemptive quality, imo, but I’m one of those who doesn’t have to like the main character in order to enjoy the book).

Halfway through I’m thinking, you know? What’s in a name? Aren’t we all eyes in the same head? Aren’t we all the fingertips of God as he’s trying to feel his face in the dark? Aren’t we all decimal points in the same finite and or infinite equation? Etc. Kind of making peace with the fact, that I’m clearly outranked by my doppel-moniker.

Then the ending comes; there are too many moving parts, and nothing is quite tied together. Instead of a definitive ending, there’s a suggestion on how one MIGHT end this scenario, conceptually, like the beginning of a plan. THUD. And I was like YEAH! Suck it OTHER Jeremy Johnson! DUMB ENDING!!! I was like that for a minute. But it I really loved filling in the blanks post-read. Now I kind of like the ending.

Eyes in the same head.

jj


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