I don’t talk about many books here, but I just finished reading Major Karnage by Gord Zajac and I had to blog about it. I honestly don’t remember the last time I’ve had that much fun reading a book – not just a book that I enjoyed reading, but real fun. Amusement park fun.
The book follows Major John Karnage, who’s locked up in an asylum because he’s a violent bastard in a future world that’s been at peace for 20 years. He also has a device in his neck that will blow his head off if he acts violently too often, so he as to keep himself in line or die. Fortunately for him, he’s good at keeping himself in line, unless someone talks to him about “The War”.
The asylum disappears in a flash of green alien light, leaving Karnage to sort out the mess and try to find and rescue his remaining soldiers/asylum-inmates. On the way he meets characters more violent and oddball than himself and you get the feeling that, despite his many quirks, failings, and violent tendencies, Karnage may just be the most normal person around. It’s a scary world to be in.
In this world, green-electricity-slinging Squid-Aliens abound, as do massive horned worm-beasts and the cultists who love them, and a we-own-the-world mega-corporation resembling a cross between Apple and the Disney company.
Even the non-lethal weapons in the book are absurdly extreme. I’d love to get my hands on a goober gun.
The feeling this book gives is a bit like riding a roller coaster without a lap bar or seat belt. It takes you up, down, and in loops, and just when you’re floating an inch above your seat, wondering if what’s coming next is going to make it all go to shit and toss you out the side, the book cranks up the G-forces and nails your ass back in place where it belongs. And then you realize that you’re grinning like an idiot.
Fun, I tell you. Absurd, satirical fun.
Interested yet? Listen to Gord read the beginning of the book. The reading starts around the 1:15 mark and Gord’s a very animated reader, well worth the listen.
There’s only one character I found somewhat unbelievable (yes, even in a book like this), and thus unsympathetic (yes, even in a book like this), but aside from that I think Zajac nailed it.
My first instinct, about halfway through the book, was that if it were a movie it would fall somewhere between Aliens (the second one with the colonial marines) and Spaceballs (for its laugh factor and pop-culture references), but that’s not a fair comparison because Spaceballs was based on gags, where this is based on making over-the-top characters and situations so over-the-top that you have no choice but to laugh. There’s an absolute revelry in its messed-up cast of characters that makes them very hard to resist. It may play more like Aliens starring Christopher Walken, partially rewritten by the guys who script for pro wrestling.
I don’t think I’m making much sense.
Read the damned book; you’ll understand. I loved it.