Monday, February 13, 2012
Facing new and old monsters alike, Dr. Brnwa's story continues in this darkly funny and lightning-paced follow up to Josh Bazell's bestselling debut. -- Reagan Arthur
If there was one book that I was really looking forward to reading this year, it was WILD THING by Josh Bazell. I loved Mr. Bazell's bestselling novel BEAT THE REAPER -- you can read my review here; and I was so excited when I learned that he was writing a sequel. BEAT THE REAPER was one of the most original and compelling (and not to mention hilarious) books that I had ever read. So needless to say, I had some very high expectations when I sat down to read WILD THING.
Unfortunately, my experience reading WILD THING wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. I really wanted to love this book, but I just couldn't. Most of the things that I loved about BEAT THE REAPER just kind of worked in this novel. Mr. Bazell's writing style and sense of humor was very reminiscent of his prior book, and the footnotes were back (thank goodness.) But, I just don't think the suspense/thriller aspect of WILD THING was as strong as I was expecting.
On the plus side, WILD THING had a very similar feel as BEAT THE REAPER, both in the narrator's voice as well as the structure of the story. The main character Pietro Brnwa was still pretty much the same old guy; and I still appreciated his sense of humor and wisecracking comments. And I absolutely love how the entire story is supplemented with footnotes. These footnotes are extremely entertaining and often times very funny, and I think this writing style is one of the things I most appreciated about this book.
However, there were a few things about WILD THING that just didn't work for me. As I mentioned earlier, I wish the suspense aspects of the story were as good as they were in BEAT THE REAPER. It might be unfair to make comparisons, but I was just waiting for the story to get really good... maybe something like the shark scene in BEAT THE REAPER? And this book just never got there for me. I hate to say this because I really wanted to like this book, but I was disappointed in the general storyline.
In addition, I felt as if the author was using this book as a way to get across Pietor's (or maybe his own) personal political agenda. There is a pretty long Appendix and Sources section at the end of the novel which document the resources Mr. Bazell used to support his characters' views. While I was very impressed with many of the author's arguments and it's clear that he is both well informed and passionate about his views, I just don't know that all of it belonged in this novel. It's not that I had any major issues with the things that he said. Rather, I just thought it detracted from the overall quality of the story.
WILD THING is a sequel to BEAT THE REAPER and you might be wondering if it works as a standalone novel. My initial reaction is that I highly recommend reading BEAT THE REAPER first because it's just a terrific book, and I do think it's helpful to know Pietro's background. However, I guess you could read WILD THING first if you were so inclined. Mr. Bazell does give a few teasers into his character's past without providing any real spoilers, but I think WILD THING works better if you are "in" on all of the past references.
While I do admit that I am drawn to Pietro and his actions in some strange (you might say twisted) way, I have to warn readers that WILD THING isn't for the faint-of-heart. There is sex, violence, and plenty of swear words (and even a few objectionable terms for women and their body parts!) I am rarely bothered by foul language, but this book even shocked me a little bit. I would definitely classify it as raunchy in some places.
I very well might be alone with my thoughts on WILD THING, and I truly hope it was just my mood when I read this book. It's not that I didn't find some redeeming things about this novel, but I was just hoping for so much more.
Thanks to my local library for sharing a copy of this book.
Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.