From Publishers Weekly
A near future glutted with obnoxious animated billboards and digitized celebrities hawking commercial goods serves as the backdrop for this wan satire on Hollywood and media overexposure. Cynical screenwriter Marshall Reed struggles to help his best friend, Colt Reston, a film legend dying of a strange wasting disease that seems to intensify in direct proportion to the amount his image is broadcast. Meanwhile, a cult of technophobes are incited to acts of billboard destruction by The Black Book, an antimedia manifesto penned by an anonymous industry insider. Wenzel (Gotham Tragic) builds momentum up to the unmasking of "Mr. Black" and the revelation of how Colt's illness intertwines with the scheme of an entertainment agent to scrap live actors in favor of digitally manipulated dead screen icons. But every time Wenzel introduces a new character, the lengthy backstory slows things to a crawl. The Hollywood zaniness provokes a few laughs, but not enough to make this more than a routine "what if."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In his third novel, Wenzel is still preoccupied with fame, but this satirical, speculative look at life in 2017 shows he's broadening his range. Colt Reston is the biggest movie star in the world, and Hollywood, thanks to the 2010 Day of Terror, has strengthened its hold as the opiate of the masses. Everyone is drowning in a sea of images: the MIBs (moving image billboards) that line highways and bathroom stalls alike show ReStars (digitized Bogarts and Bacalls) hawking everything under the skin-burning sun. The elite take "media fasts," while more hands-on types attack the MIBs themselves. Against a backdrop of warring talent agencies, which seem more like governments, Marshall Reed, a drug-addled script doctor and Reston's best friend, tries to find out who's sick enough of Reston's face to disfigure it. This is clever and engaging, though its satirical edge is blunted by the lack of unexpected insight. Yes, marketing has run amok; yes, we have media fatigue; yes, fear breeds nostalgia. But with an ending as fanciful as this one, we're not as frightened as we ought to be. Graff, Keir Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved