Welcome to my May Backlist Burndown review! Thanks to Lisa @ The Tenacious Reader, on the last Friday of each month we get to link up with other bloggers who are participating. The goal is to read a book from an author’s backlist that you’ve been meaning to read, but just haven’t been able to get to. I could honestly spend all my time reading backlist books, since I’m so behind, LOL! But trying for one a month is a good start.
I just discovered Daryl Gregory this past year, and I’ve loved everything he’s written. In perusing Gregory’s backlist on Goodreads, I was thrilled to discover he’s got at least three more books that I haven’t read yet, and this makes me super happy! What impresses me most about him is how veristile he is. Each of the three books I’ve read could honestly be written by three different writers, they are that different. Afterparty is the book I’ve chosen for this month’s Backlist Burndown, and wow, what a doozy of a story it was!
Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
Genre: Adult science fiction
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: 2014
Source: Finished paperback from publisher
The nitty-gritty: If Pulp Fiction and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest went to church and got pregnant, Afterparty would be their crazy, drug-soaked baby.
Oh, we were such geniuses. A company of smarty-pants. Mikala the chemistry wizard, Gil the tech brain, Edo the money man, and me—the neuroscientist with the brilliant idea that we could cure the Afghanistan of mental disorders.
This is probably going to be my favorite book of 2015, unless something even better comes along. And it wasn’t even published this year, for cryin’ out loud! You guys, I had heard great things about Afterparty, but I had no idea that Daryl Gregory actually wrote this book specifically for me! Don’t you love it when that happens? OK, maybe he didn’t write it for me personally, but it feels as if he did. This is my third Daryl Gregory book, and I swear that guy never writes the same book twice. You would never know that this is the same author of Harrison Squared and We Are Completely Fine, two books I also loved.
Afterparty is about drugs. And religion. And relationships. And being a parent. And dealing with addiction. It’s about trust and betrayal and murder. But if any of that sounds too heavy for you, never fear. This book is not heavy. It’s entertaining. It’s got crazy action and road trips and trying to cross the border. But mostly, it’s got amazing characters, dialog and pacing. In short, it’s everything I want and need in a book. For this review, I’ve decided to give you my top ten eleven twelve thirteen reasons you should get off your ass right now and read Afterparty:
- Lyda Rose. Our MC was named after a song (yes, that song!) but she’s also had her brain permanently altered by a drug called Numinous, and now she has her own personal angel who follows her around and gives her (mostly) unwanted advice. The problem is, no one can see the angel except Lyda, so she’s been locked up in a mental institution for a while. Lyda loves to swear and she’s a super smart neuroscientist, and I adored everything about her.
- Bobby and his treasure chest. Bobby is Lyda’s friend from the loony bin, and he thinks his soul lives in a plastic treasure chest that he wears around his neck.
- A beautifully written lesbian relationship. Lyda used to be married to Mikala, until that fateful night (you’ll see when you read the book!), and now she’s falling for Ollie, a brilliant computer hacker who is just as damaged as Lyda. I’m even more impressed that this completely believable and honest relationship was written by a male writer. Even better? It’s also a mixed race one. Bonus points!
- A story with Pulp Fiction-like attitude. Guns, drugs, hit men, black humor and did I mention drugs? This is high-octane story that knows when to stop and take a breather.
- Dr. Gloria! Dr. Gloria is Lyda’s angel, and I pictured her the entire story as Oprah Winfrey. Yep. I loved their dialog because first of all, Lyda is an atheist and doesn’t believe for one minute that Dr. Gloria is real. And she sometimes says mean things to her. But just like Jesus, Dr. Gloria always forgives Lyda.
- Drugs. It’s no secret that I have a thing for books about drugs. I’m not sure why, maybe because there is so much you can do with the subject, especially in science fiction. In Afterparty, drugs are everywhere, and even Joe Normal can whip up a recipe on a chemjet printer and swallow a piece of paper to get high.
- Science and future tech. Gregory did lots of research for his story. I loved all the details about the brain and how drugs affect it, but I also loved the cool gadgets. Like everyone has smart pens instead of smart phones (you flick open the screen like opening a fan).
- Vinnie/The Vincent. Not all the characters are good. Vinnie just wants to run his ranch (which is inside his house!), but when he becomes The Vincent, you want to stay away from him. Far away.
- Tiny buffalo! You’ll need to read the book to see what this means. I just wanted to say I loved the tiny buffalo!
- The mystery of what really happened that night. It’s a mystery that Gregory drags out until the very end, and it’s part of the reason this guy’s pacing is BRILLIANT.
- Sasha and her IF Deck!!! OMG Sasha is probably my favorite character. Maybe ever. I won’t tell you exactly who she is, or what the heck an “IF Deck” is, it’s just another reason you’ll have to read the book for yourself. But I want more Sasha, more stories about her please!
- So. Much. Emotion. Not only do you get a kick-ass action story with awesome characters, but Gregory made me SOB at the end. I’m not sure why, but I was crying, damn it.
- The ending!! Never have I been so happy to have the ending in my head match the actual ending of a book. I knew what I wanted to happen, and it did! And then I cried some more.
I know lots of reviewers have tried to analyze this story to determine what it means. Is Gregory making some kind of statement about religion? Is God real, or is religion just our brain telling us what we want to believe? I’m not sure, but I do know that the author lets you draw your own conclusions. There were times when even Lyda isn’t sure about Dr. Gloria, and I loved the fact that she might be a drug-induced hallucination, or she might not.
Have I convinced you yet? You can come back next month when I have my book review giveaway, and try to win a copy of Afterparty, or you could splurge right now and get your own. Or there’s that place called the library that probably has a copy too:-D Highly recommended to the nth highest recommendation. And then triple that. Did I mention I loved this book?
Big thanks to Tor for the review copy!
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