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Go, Mutants!: A Novel Hardcover – June 22, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Go, Mutants!Larry Doyle. Ecco, $23.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-168655-9Humor writer Doyle (I Love You, Beth Cooper) walks a razor's edge between dumb and clever and falls onto both sides repeatedly in this parody that imagines a world in which the aliens from 1950s sci-fi movies have actually arrived on earth and integrated into human society. J!m Anderson is the son of a leader of an alien invasion who was presumed impaled on the Washington monument and an alluring cat woman currently working as a cocktail waitress. As a teen alien, J!m is mercilessly teased at school and tormented by his cross-species love for Marie Rand, the daughter of mad scientist Dr. Howard Rand, who keeps his wife's severed head alive in a pan of fluid. You get the idea. Throughout the novel, an encyclopedic knowledge of monster movies is on display, and most of the greats, including a King Kong–like giant ape (whose half-human son, Johnny, is J!m's best friend) are referenced. Doyle's style is to throw jokes and hope something sticks, and while there's much cleverness, the overall effect can be manic. This will be best appreciated by a select and nostalgic readership, preferably those who can catalogue Godzilla's many opponents. (June)
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Doyle's love of teen movies was giddily evident in I Love You, Beth Cooper (2007). But it seems there's another genre he loves even more: the sci-fi shockers of the 1950s and '60s. This frenetic satire combines flying saucers, hideous mutants, and all other manner of drive-in fare with the high-school ennui of something like Rebel without a Cause. It has been 20 years since the aliens landed in 1951, and 17-year-old J!m (don't bother trying to pronounce it) is, aside from his blue skin and brain-enlarged cranium, your quintessential teen loner. With his pal Johnny, an atomic ape, and their tagalong buddy Jelly, a pile of gelatinous goo, they outsmart human bullies and try to make out with chicks. (Though the chicks are understandably unnerved by interspecies sex-ed films—if you thought getting pregnant was bad, try getting eggs laid in your brain.) Every sentence careens with energy, wisecracks, and winks at everything from triffids to Altair IV. Shades of the Red scare and allegories about puberty abound, too, but thankfully, gooey atomic mayhem wins the day. --Daniel Kraus
Top customer reviews
Part of the fault lies in me, Go, Mutants! is a much better read if you read it from cover to cover and don't cheat on it with other books or put it away for several months. There's a lot of sci-fi terms made up by Doyle, which really bogged down the flow of the story for me. At the heart of Mutants is simple teenage love story we can all relate to. J!m is an awkward teen going through the grossness of puberty, in love with his friend Marie, but afraid to tell her how he feels. And just like Ron screwed things up with Hermione at the Yule Ball, J!m misses his opportunity to ask Marie to the school dance despite the fact that she gave him hints big enough to be seen from space.
Once I got into the book the writing and sci-fi-iness of it all got easier to read, and by the end I was quite invested in the characters. I loved Johnny- how cool would it be to have a blue ape boy as you best friend, capable of not only going all King Kong on your enemy's hiney, but also able to belt out great music? Like in I Love You, Beth Cooper, which paid homage to every John Hughes movie ever made, Go, Mutants! is a walk down the 1950's memory lane, although history is a bit altered by aliens influence. Instead of Elvis Presley, there's the Presley Brothers, Kennedy is still alive, and all the cool advances the Jetson's cartoon promised us as kids is realized.
It's kind of like if you had thrown Holden Caulfield into Grease, except Holden in this case is an alien by the name of J!m (but everybody just calls him Jim). Light-hearted Dark Suspenseful Nostalgic SF Fun...and then it gets weird - and obviously I tend to think that weird is good.
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