- Paperback: 262 pages
- Publisher: ShineBox Digital Publishing (May 18, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0615489494
- ISBN-13: 978-0615489490
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 41 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,184,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lost at the Con Paperback – May 18, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
- It's Hell's Angels meets Breakfast of Champions meets Amazing Spiderman. -Huffington Post
- If you like gonzo journalism, politics or conventions this is a definite buy. -Graphic Policy
- It's funny, smart and thought provoking. Perfect for geeks and non-geeks alike. -[insertgeekhere]
About the Author
Bryan Young works across many different mediums. As a film producer, his last two films ("This Divided State" and "Killer at Large") were released by The Disinformation Company and were called "filmmaking gold" by The New York Times. He's also published comic books with Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics. He's a contributor for the Huffington Post and the founder and editor in chief of the geek news and review site Big Shiny Robot!
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Lost at the Con is, in many ways, a geek homage to Thompson's _Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas_. So I should probably start by saying that I thought that _Fear and Loathing..._ was, at best, okay.
The main problem I have with this book is the same problem I had with Thompson's : I didn't like the protagonist. They aren't people I choose to be around - and would probably be people I'd actively avoid, if at all possible. However, I liked this book quite a bit more than _Fear and Loathing..._. Despite the protagonist's jerk attitude, Bryan is clearly both familiar with (and a sympathetic friend to) the con-goers portrayed in the book. And unlike Thompson's work, Young's protagonist actually does start growing and redeeming himself (a little bit in the second act, more in the third).
And really, that's my only problem with the book at all. It's a significant problem for me as a reader because of my own personal tastes. If unpleasant protagonists don't bother you, then Bryan's writing skill and sense of humor make this a great pick for you. If an unpleasant protagonist turns you off, Bryan's writing skill and sense of humor will need to carry you through at least a third of the book. It's worth nothing that the author's skill did carry me through that first bit... but I noticed.
Read the preview parts, and see what you think (especially knowing there's some redemption later), and you'll probably have a good idea if this book is right for you.
I did find reading the articles the main character (a reporter) had submitted hard to read on my Kindle as the formatting of these were really bad with words split randomly in the middle and sentences that ran part way across a line before splitting.
If you just want to read the book, buy the kindle edition. This is because the books is average, at best. I'll divide this review into best/worst/funniest to save some time:
Best: It's about something new, and it's about a subculture that is growing by leaps and bounds, and it's very interesting. Especially if you have been to a con, this book rings a lot of bells. These people are weird, quirky, often drunk, and sometimes quite accommodating and accepting. Cons are disorienting, and I think that's accurately described here. Seeing it also from a non-geek eye is a good point of view for the book. The stranger in a strange land or fish out of water motif works well for this subject because he's able to still be shocked by some of the things that seem normal to a seasoned con vet.
Worst: Bryan Young is not Hunter S. Thompson. Nor is he Charles Bukowski. The book sounds as if he is trying to emulate both (the drunken, cynical writer). On nearly every page, there's a single-word paragraph with a curse word (I tried to spell them out for you, but Amazon got mad. You know what dirty words are, though). This is funny when Bukowski does it, mainly because these single-word paragraphs are used sparingly. Nothing's funnier than a well-placed "Balls." However, in _Lost at the Con_, this is done to death. It's forced. In fact, I'd say the tone of the book is "Forced Thompskowski." I don't mind someone writing in the style of either of these men (they're great writers to want to write like), but it seems as if Young is relying on that drunken cynicism a little too much to the point that the main character should have killed himself by the time he reached the door of his hotel. Also, relying too much on the single word paragraphs just sounds like he's desperate for laughs.
Funniest: The characters are great. There's a homeless guy, cute little cosplay girls, douchebags, druggies, and, as I'm sure others have mentioned, Space Lincoln. And it's funny because it's true. These people are getting together to be themselves by pretending to be other people. It's brilliant, and you really can't make this stuff up. I think that just pointing out the reality of the bizarre and crazy people at cons is enough. The way we laugh at people when we're at cons is the way I giggled when I read about the people at cons. It's endearing and sad at the same time.
I also agreed with the 'open your eyes' up but with celebrities charging fortunes for autographs "because they can" and nerds going all out for it. (I've paid for autographs for a tenner or 15.00 quid, but not a fortune, and they were on rows of tables where you could see them.) I remember something similar at the London comic con... the Star Trek captain in the book was mentioned, and it was just like that -- he was cordoned off behind walls that were set up so no one could take a peek, even. But there was still a queue. Madness.
I've given it three stars for the writing style in some areas, and the ending -- there wasn't a closure, just an end - like some movie sequel. I thought more could have been put into that area and expected more to come through the girlfriend side - perhaps expecting the main character to run off with someone else or for his g/f to be a closet sci-fi nerd. Anyway, just some of the writing flow did not seem to be spot on, and the ending seemed rushed.