Saturday, 1 November 2014

Hell's Biggest Badass

I've been wanting to read Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey for a long time now. I've heard nothing but good things about this series and it's got everything I look for in a novel: A snarky, badass antihero, demons, magic, and intense action. Sandman Slim not only met those expectations, but completely blew them out of the water. I was hooked from the very first paragraph, and could not put the book down. Not since Rob Thurman's latest Cal Leandros novel has a book forced me to watch my expressions in public. Considering some of the insane things Sandman Slim says, you have no idea how hard it is to keep myself from laughing like an idiot or gaping like a fish.

Love the simplicity and typography of this cover. It tells you that something bad is going to happen in the story.
Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you're James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark's back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you'd expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse. 

Allow me to sum up my feels about this book in a simple sentence: I love it. Love it. The moment Stark opens his mouth, you know exactly what kind of person he is. The kind of man you don't want to cross if you like your head on your shoulders. He's rough, self-destructive, and has an itchy trigger finger. But that's why I like him. You know he's broken, possibly beyond repair, and you can't help but want to see what he does next, or find out what made him that. Preferably behind a hundred feet of electrified, bulletproof glass, of course.

The mythology of this book is fantastic. There are all kinds of unique weapons, realistic magic (aka lots of herbs and powders and gross liquids), and the way the demons and angels are presented is completely original. I really love the nicknames for Hell and the way Stark reacts when he thinks about it. Trust me when I say it's probably not how you'd expect. 

The secondary characters are just as well written as the primary. I love Vidocq, the accidentally immortal Frenchman who acts as a father figure to Stark. Allegra is also a very strong character, one who definitely isn't afraid to play with the big boys.

Every action scene was hard, brutal, and left me wanting more. I cringed at some points when Stark was battling an enemy that seemed to have the upperhand. Hellions and magic users are freakishly inventive when it comes to hurting their enemies.

Kadrey has a unique style of description. Usually he only needs one, slightly sarcastic or outrageous sentence. After that, not only can you picture exactly what he's describing, but you'll never be able to get the image out of your head. It's clear that he loves writing Stark and his adventures, and I can't say I blame him. The story was absolute fun from start to finish, and I recommend it to anyone who likes their urban fantasy with a healthy dose of grit and nasty humor. Be careful what you wish for– you just might get it.


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