I don’t do science-fiction books that often anymore. I had enough with talking ships and aliens, but at my last foray into the book store I randomly scanned the shelves and for some reason this one popped out at me. Maybe because it was bright blue in a sea of black covers. Maybe it was the title, Outrageous Fortune. Whatever it was that made me pick up the book, the jacket copy and opening line were what finally hooked me.

I judge many books by their openings. This one had me at hello–or actually at “F@%#@ers”. That was the first line (minus the symbols of course). The back copy told a story about Johnny X, a dream architect who finds his life slipping away into a world of absolute craziness. I like crazy, so I bought it.

From the first line, the book grabs you and takes you directly into an interesting America somewhere in the undisclosed future. Neighborhoods are organized not by our normal geography but instead grouped by music genres. Each neighborhood represents its music genre well. Punk is a jumbled mess of anarchy. Classic boasts perfectly manicured lawns and well dressed children. Jazz is an improve–one builder starts, than another takes over, than another.

There are joke telling elevators, house thieves (they steal the whole house), the most Inconvenient Bar which reminds me of a few Saturday nights in downtown Austin, skin media, spam holograms, and other fun shenanigans. All in all–the world is fun, interesting, and a bit nuts.

Story wise it started out strong. Halfway through I guessed the ending–which was one of those type of endings I hate. No spoilers here, but there is a certain ending device I find to be a bit of a cop-out. Some of the narrative commentary was a bit much. I enjoyed it in the mellow parts, but some of the off-topic commentary droned on during action scenes, slowing the pace.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the book. It was the most refreshing concept and voice I’ve read in a long time. Even despite the ending, I loved the mayhem and unusual events and would recommend this book to anyone.

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