ARC REVIEW: Breakfast At Cannibal Joe’s – by Jay Spencer Green

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Title: Breakfast At Cannibal Joe’s
Author: Jay Spencer Green
Genre: Fiction, Dystopia, Dark Comedy
First published: July 20th 2015
Finished reading: September 9th 2015
Pages: 332
Rating 2,5qqq

“They forget that the CIA is all about collecting information. Information for other people to act on. If you join the CIA expecting a life of laser guns, ju-jitsu and exotic STDs, bear in mind that your only contact with them may come through the pages of The Lancet and Popular Mechanics.”

*** A copy of this novel was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I was asked to read and review Breakfast At Cannibal Joe’s a little over two weeks ago and it sounded like a very entertaining read. Now I’ve read it, I can’t deny it is a highly original, unique and creative story with matching prose, but I’ve also came to realize this kind of humor just isn’t for me. I’ve had similar problems in the past (with The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy and A Dirty Job to name a few) where a lot of people seemed to appreciate the novel a lot more than I did, so maybe me and this novel just weren’t ment to be? Like I said before, the prose is without doubt original and interesting, although it does include a lot of strong language (swearing, sex, drugs). If you are easily offended or don’t appreciate dark humor, this might not be the perfect read for you. I liked the general storyline with the CIA agent Joe Chambers as a main character and the setting in a slightly dystopian Dublin, but I did have a hard time following the plot mostly because of the random bits of information in between the main story. Those paragraphs are also part of the uniqueness of Breakfast At Cannibal Joe’s, so it’s easy to say I had a hard time rating this novel…

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CIA agent Joe Chambers screwed up in the past and is sent to Dublin to oversee a CIA front company since they can’t get rid of him in another way. While it’s not the most beautiful place to be stuck in, Joe is quite content with his current situation and is willing to do a lot to prevent the CIA from sending him back to the USA. He will have to find a better way of maximizing profits of the Whetstone Publishing company to save it, but Joe has other problems in his life as well. A MI6 agent keeps breaking into his apartment and stealing his booze, he might need to actually start selling drugs to keep the profits up, he has a tapeworm named Steve after his wife’s lover in his guts… Joe Chambers’ life is nothing close to ordinary. Will he be able to figure out his mess?

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There is no doubt that Breakfast At Cannibal Joe’s is an unique story and I really appreciated that. The main characters aren’t exactly likeable, but they are not supposed to be in this story. I wasn’t completely convinced by the humor and plot myself, but that mostly be because this kind of dark humor simply isn’t for me. If you like the genre and don’t mind the use of strong language and graphic scenes, give this novel a chance!

ARC REVIEW: Funereal – by Giacomo Lee

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Title: Funereal
Author: Giacomo Lee
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dark Comedy
First published: March 30th 2015
Finished reading: April 10th 2015
Pages: 139
Rating 4

“Sleep is the true rehearsal for death, Soobin thought with a sigh. That’s why grandma had more dreams of the future the older she got, for death is the future of all things, coming back towards us like a feedback loop.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Just as I was thinking about the fact that I’m not reading enough stories set in Asia, I was contacted by Typhoon Media Ltd. to read and review Funereal. This book written by Giacomo Lee is set in modern.day South Korea, and it’s definitely a refreshing read. Other books I’ve read that are set in Korea have had mostly Western main characters or are about the Korean War, but Giacomo Lee chose to show us the dark side to the modern day capial of Seoul instead, complete with Korean main characters. It’s an almost surreal picture of a city where plastic surgery, suicide and the struggle to fit in are part of the daily life. The Korean culture is different from our own Western one, and from what I could tell with my limited knowledge of that culture, the author was able to give a convincing image of their competitiveness and their drive for reaching perfection both physically and psychologically. The prose is interesting, and even though at times it wasn’t that easy to understand the bigger picture, I still highly enjoyed reading this novel. Definitely an interesting read full of references to the hi-tech and music world!

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Soobin Shin is looking for an interesting job ever since her college graduation, but she doesn’t have any luck so far. She seems to be stuck with her job in a doughnut store, while her twin sister Hyewon is one of Korea’s famous models… Then one evening, one of the doughnut store’s clients offers her a job in his new company, saying that she has ‘the perfect smile. Perfect for the friendly face of death’. Although she is not sure about what to think of the customer, she still agrees to meet him. The company, OneLife Korea, is ment to save South Korea of its depressions… One funeral at the time. Soobin Shin is supposed to become the face of the company, where she will help clients getting over their depressions by burying them alive and let them attend their own funeral. South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world, and Soobin agrees to try and help bring that number down. Everything seems to work perfectly, until the clients actually start dying…

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This is not your typical read and it definitely touches some interesting themes. We live in a world that is increasingly hi-tec and plastic, where anything less than perfect is seen negatively. Peer pressure increases and that could definitely lead to a situation as described in Funereal where suicide rates have gone through the roof. The prose Giacomo Lee used to describe his story helps creating the hi-tech and surreal world of Seoul where people pay to attend their own funeral. Funereal is without doubt worth reading if you like (literary) fiction and sci-fi! If you are interested, the paperback version is available starting tomorrow, April 14th.