I meant to write this review a week ago and what I mean by that is that I had planned on starting to read this book before that particular point in time. Try to keep it to as close to a book a week as I can. As may be evidently clear by now I cannot keep a schedule to save my soul. I’d like to blame illnesses for this delay but no. I was just really fucking lazy.
Today’s feature is K.C. Alexander’s Necrotech. A cyberpunk book that a friend recommended to me as being right up my alley and how right she was! It’s not the greatest cyberpunk novel I’ve ever read (a sample size now of 3 novels) but it is a lot of fun. It’s the literary equivalent of an action movie. Make some popcorn, kick back, and enjoy. Actually before you do that let me tell you why you should do that.
“Street thug Riko has some serious issues (This is an understatement) —memories wiped, reputation tanked, girlfriend turned into a tech-fueled zombie. And the only people who can help are the mercenaries who think she screwed them over (Kind of a red herring as only one of them gets involved while the others cameo).
In an apathetic society devoid of ethics or regulation (Actually there are plenty of regulations. That’s why the main character is a criminal!), where fusing tech and flesh can mean a killing edge or a killer conversion, a massive conspiracy is unfolding that will alter the course of the human condition forever. With corporate meatheads on her ass and a necro-tech blight between her and salvation, Riko is going to have to fight meaner, work smarter, and push harder than she’s ever had to. And that’s just to make it through the day.”
Alright. Let’s get this out of the way. The plot is by far the weakest part of the book. It is the generic wake up in a bad situation with amnesia “plot”. Missing time to build artificial conflict between people who should be friends. Vague accusations that are never explained even to the extent that the characters know them. Plus a whole lot of characters not asking questions. Cheap and easy with manufactured tension and mystery. Also there is a (not) promising hint of a mind control scenario for the sequel.
Okay… I wanted to start off with that because I wanted to get the worst out of the way. It is by far the worst part and it’s not even bad. I’ve just seen it before. A lot. Like holy shit. Beyond that the gripes are nitpicks. I could have done with a few less instances of Riko getting turned on by someone (more because it does literally nothing to advance the story or even expound on her than anything else – and, yes, I would feel the exact same way about a male character that kept noting his hard ons) and I would have replaced the generic mercs at the end with her old team (it would have been more impactful) or at least switched Carter and Hooker’s parts in the last section. The world is fairly generic cyberpunk with a few nice little bits of slang and even a ‘punked up take on zombies. Tech zombies. This isn’t Shadowrun.
That all sounds really bad doesn’t it? Don’t worry. Riko makes up for it. This is first person POV done right. Her personality colors the world and she has personality for days. She is a fucking train wreck of a person in all the best ways. Virtually nothing is done for the right reasons, she lies to herself all the time, and her flaws legitimately affect her. There were multiple points where is she could have pulled her head out of her ass she could have avoided trouble but she doesn’t. Not because she’s stupid – though she’s not the brightest bulb in the bunch – but because she’s flawed.
Now you might be asking why did I call this Vulgarpunk? Well… you would ask if my readers were real and anyone actually gave a shit as to what I think about anything. It’s because Riko cusses like a real person. Most first person POVs will occasionally cuss but it’s usually this one off verbal thing and in their head they are always expositing. Riko? She screams “FUUUUCCKK!” in her head the same way I did every Black Friday I worked in retail. Someone pisses her and she tells them to fuck off. She’s vulgar, rude, angry, and has no patience for idiots… I have never identified with a character more.
There are more characters but read this for Riko. She’s awesome. She is what makes this book fun to read. She gives the book life. I’m looking forward to reading Nanoshock. Hopefully you’ll be there with me. I mean spiritually and not physically. That would be weird and somewhat troubling.
Also RIP Carter. We hardly knew ye.