The saga of Murderland continues in "Life During Wartime," and the war being waged is over culture. Jeremy Jenkins is a serial killer living in a world that idolizes and hero-worships serial killers. And while this culture is tailor-made for psychos like Jeremy to be appreciated, he wants nothing of it. He's killed an unheard-of number of people, but Jeremy isn't looking for fame. He's a delusional schizophrenic trying to save the world from inter-dimensional demons. It makes no sense and yet it makes perfect sense.
The first installment of Murderland, H8, introduced us to Jeremy and the weird society he lives in. Now, his girlfriend Cass has discovered his true nature and, as a fan of Reap, is helping him on his crusade. Like H8, Life During Wartime is short and dense. Author Garrett Cook jumps between different points of view, including Jeremy, Cass, Jeremy's inner voice, and Reap commentator Ian Sterling. Murderland will probably have several sequels, and each installment so far seems to flow seamlessly into the next (which doesn't help the books stand on their own, but that's okay, as the world of Reap and Jeremy's "mission from God" play out like the chapter of an epic saga).
In Life During Wartime, Jeremy splits his time between declaring war on Reap and trying to solve an old-fashioned mystery. Someone has skinned fifteen young men alive and Jeremy plans to make this new killer his next victim. Also, we get to see some of Jeremy's past and how his utterly insane delusions first began to manifest themselves. With Cass's support, Jeremy makes his crusade to save the world public, revealing himself to be "Mr 400" and challenging the tenets of Reap culture. Some see him as the next evolution in Reap society, while the pillars of Reap gang up to protect what they've created for themselves. A lot is going on, and it's a single chapter in a much bigger story, but Garrett Cook does a great job of humanizing all of these characters and making this world seem real and plausible. I truly hope we get to see more Murderland, as I can't wait to see Jeremy face off with Godless Jack.
In Murderland Part I - H8 Jeremy is coming to grips with his other life. But being a serial killer is not for everyone, so he hides his 'blood-lust with a purpose' from his long-time girlfriend, Cass. Flash foward to "Life During Wartime" and Jeremy no longer has to fight the good fight all by his lonesome. With a rag-tag motley crue of interesting characters (Cass, General Lud, The Pimp, The Pastor and, of course, the one and only Mr. 400) Jeremy dives head-first into his work as the Lightning of God. After dispatching a popular music group and a 'Bundy' winner, Jeremy and all the gang (learnin' from each other, while we do are thing....na-na-na, gonna have a good time - Hey Hey Hey!) throw the World of Reap into a tailspin with all their shenannigans (three Ns?). Jeremy and Cass have some painful lessons yet to learn as Godless Jack takes issue with their stance and their growing popularity.
Garrett Cook kicks a-hole again with this 2nd of 10 installments. Just as much gruesome fun as the first one. Jump on board. Also, check out Archelon Ranch for more crazy Cook-ery!
I should start by saying that Cook's sequel "Life During Wartime" is at least on par with the first book in the series that introduced us to the world of Jeremy Jenkins and his struggle to maintain composure in a rapidly decaying society. In the first book, "Murderland 1: H8", we were introduced to two unstable and potentially unreliable narrators in our protagonist Jeremy and his "inner demon" who "both" believe the "Dark Ones" were tainting Earth's women and reacted to this by violently murdering and removing the sexual reproductive organs of any woman he saw as being a possible target of these evil beings. After an abrupt ending to the first story we pick up with Jeremy once again going about his mission to save the world alongside his girlfriend who gives us a new look into his world as a more sympathetic narrator despite her opinions in the first book. This seems to follow Cook's style of giving us a story through as many differing views as possible even if we are witness to the inner-workings of a harmful presence in the "main characters" life.
Without giving anything away, we see the newly added support of his girlfriend and newcomers along the way throughout "Murderland 2: Life During Wartime" as it continues its tale of the public's growing obsession with violence and murder that your local news could never dream of. This is a world where "A Clockwork Orange" was potentially taught in grade school and serial killers are beloved rather than just a passing interest of the "abnormal" folks who get their rocks off watching the Biography Channel's specials on Charles Manson.
I recommend reading "Murderland 1: H8" before this to get the full story, however I believe that each can be enjoyed on their own and look forward to the third part of this series to see where this alternate reality, or even potential future takes the readers. Fans of this work should also check out Cook's "Archelon Ranch" that employs another unique approach to the job of the narrator within a work of fiction that takes you to a dystopian future not so far off from where we are heading now.