Review: JONATHAN UNLEASHED by Meg Rosoff (Bloomsbury/Viking)

RosoffM-JonathanUnleashedUKA sometimes endearing NYC novel…

Jonathan Trefoil’s boss is unhinged, his relationship baffling and his apartment just the wrong side of legal. His girlfriend wants to marry someone just like him – only richer and more organised with a different sense of humour. 

On the plus side, his two flatmates are determined to fix his life – or possibly to destroy it altogether. It’s difficult to be certain as they only speak dog.

Poor Jonathan. He doesn’t remember life being this confusing back in the good old days before everyone expected him to act like a person. But one thing he knows for sure: if he can make it in New York City, he can make it anywhere.

Will he get out of advertising, meet the girl of his dreams and figure out the gender of his secret crush?

Given how it’s going so far, probably not.

I had high hopes for this novel. It was getting a lot of positive buzz and reviews, and so when it popped up on sale on Amazon, I decided to give it a try. Despite some amusing and very well-written passages, the novel ultimately did not live up to the hype. Continue reading

Review: A CITY DREAMING by Daniel Polansky (Regan Arts/Hodder)

PolanskyD-ACityDreamingUSA marvellous, gonzo urban fantasy

M is an ageless drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and the ability to bend reality to his will, ever so slightly. He’s come back to New York City after a long absence, and though he’d much rather spend his days drinking artisanal beer in his favorite local bar, his old friends — and his enemies — have other plans for him. One night M might find himself squaring off against the pirates who cruise the Gowanus Canal; another night sees him at a fashionable uptown charity auction where the waitstaff are all zombies. A subway ride through the inner circles of hell? In M’s world, that’s practically a pleasant diversion.

Before too long, M realizes he’s landed in the middle of a power struggle between Celise, the elegant White Queen of Manhattan, and Abilene, Brooklyn’s hip, free-spirited Red Queen, a rivalry that threatens to make New York go the way of Atlantis. To stop it, M will have to call in every favor, waste every charm, and blow every spell he’s ever acquired—he might even have to get out of bed before noon.

Enter a world of Wall Street wolves, slumming scenesters, desperate artists, drug-induced divinities, pocket steampunk universes, and demonic coffee shops. M’s New York, the infinite nexus of the universe, really is a city that never sleeps — but is always dreaming.

This is a very different kind of fantasy to Daniel Polansky’s debut Low Town series. For one thing, it’s set in New York. Only, it is certainly not the New York you are likely to know. A City Dreaming is wonderfully weird and extremely inventive. I very much enjoyed this. Continue reading

Teaser: Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan’s THE STRAIN (TV)

The teaser trailer for upcoming TV adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain was unveiled by FX during the Super Bowl. Here it is:

Upcoming: “Day One” by Nate Kenyon (Thomas Dunne)

KenyonN-DayOneI stumbled across this today, and thought it sounded pretty interesting. In my way, that meant I decided to share it on here. [Ok, by “stumble”, I mean “found in the catalogue which I was reading”…]

I’m a sucker for post-apocalypse New York stories – Adam Baker’s Terminus being the most recent example. Here’s the synopsis – so there was little chance that I wouldn’t be interested in this:

Scandal­-plagued hacker journalist John Hawke is hot on the trail of the explosive story that might save his career. James Weller, the former CEO of giant technology company, Eclipse, has founded a new start­up, and he’s agreed to let Hawke do a profile on him. Hawke knows something very big is in the works at Eclipse – a major computing breakthrough – and he wants to use the profile as a foot in the door to find out more.

After he arrives in Weller’s office in New York City, a seemingly normal day quickly turns into a nightmare as anything with an Internet connection begins to malfunction. Hawke receives a phone call from his frantic wife, and just before the phone goes dead, she indicates that someone is trying to break down the apartment door. Soon, Hawke and a small band of survivors are struggling for their very lives as they find themselves thrust into the middle of a war zone – with no obvious enemy in sight.

The bridges and tunnels have been destroyed. New York City is under attack from a malevolent entity that can be anywhere and can occupy anything with a computer chip. It is deadly. It is brilliant. And it wants to eradicate the population of New York. Somehow, Hawke must find a way back to New Jersey and his pregnant wife and young son. Their lives depend upon it… and so does the rest of the human race.

Nate Kenyon’s Day One is due to be published by Thomas Dunne Books in October 2013. Kenyon is the author of Bloodstone and The Reach, both of which were Bram Stoker Award finalists. His other fiction includes The Bone Factory, Sparrow Rock, StarCraft: Ghost Spectres, and Diablo: The Order.