Friday, March 25, 2016

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Just look at the superhero movies playing now or in the near future -- from Deadpool and Suicide Squad to the darker storylines of Batman v. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and pretty much the entire Wolverine franchise, and it's clear that this is the Age of the Antihero.

Viewers are burned out on the simple, heroic straight arrow. These are more complicated times, after all. We don't want Boy Scouts; we want vigilantes. We don't want Harry Potter -- we want Sandman Slim.

Wait... Who?

That's a question that even the character himself has to ask, as it's a name given to him without his knowledge. Sandman Slim -- or rather, James Stark -- is a magician with a serious chip on his shoulder. Betrayed by his friends, he spent eleven years fighting for his life in Hell before returning to a Los Angeles he barely recognizes, thanks to cell phones, the Internet, and a sneaky invasion of creepy bad guys.

If Stark were a hero, he'd set about making up for lost time, righting wrongs and working to save the city and world he once knew and loved.

But Stark is an antihero. His vengeance-fueled hit list is as long as his arm, and on the way to crossing all the names off it, he displays a remarkable aptitude for destruction, a healthy appreciation for female companionship, and very expensive taste in cars (which he steals). He is snarky, distrusting, impulsive, and single-minded in his pursuit of revenge. He smokes, steals, and blows things up. Basically, he's Harry Dresden at his lowest point, with an extra dash of bitterness and immaturity.

And it's a heck of a lot of fun.

I picked up Sandman Slim off a used book rack based entirely on the excellent back-cover blurbs by Kim Harrison, Cory Doctorow, Holly Black, William Gibson, and Charlaine Harris. They were right. Now I'm looking forward to tracking down the rest of the series (7 books currently published with an 8th on the way). It's a little edgier and darker than most books I'd recommend to most young teens, but definitely appropriate for older teens/adult readers. For the urban fantasy reader who needs a new fix after working their way through The Dresden Files, this could definitely fit the bill.

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