Friday, January 17, 2014

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

In a post disaster New York, law and order has gone by the wayside. Once a garbageman, Spademan has taken on a very different line of work as a killer for hire. He has rules, though: all he wants is a name and location, no details. And he won't kill kids. When he's hired to kill the daughter of a famous televangelist things go a bit haywire. She's eighteen, sure, but she's also massively pregnant and Spademan draws the line there. But Spademan's decision earns him a powerful enemy, one that puts him and every one he knows at risk. 

Adam Sternbergh's debut is filled with sparse prose but big story. The world building is dead on and Spademan is the kind of anti-hero readers like me love: a hardened man in a hardened world but still able to come down on the right side when it matters.

Much of Sternbergh's imagined future is bleak and understandably so. This is a New York that's been ravaged by nature and crime. Those who are able to afford to have literally tuned out, plugging into a new system called the limnosphere - an artificial world that allows you to live out fantasies and leave reality permanently behind. An entire industry has popped up as a result with hired hands offering protection and medical staff who check vitals and deliver food. Spademan himself once dabbled in it until cutting himself off altogether.

Sternbergh's bio describes the book as a "future-noir thriller about a garbageman-turned-hitman set in a dystopian New York City." It's the perfect in a nutshell pitch for the book to be honest. Stylistically it's quite unlike anything I've read of late. As I mentioned, the prose is sparse. Paragraphs are sometimes just one sentence long. There are no quotation marks either, which can sometimes drive a type-A person like myself bananas but it works here because Sternbergh has built the prose conversationally. Not only is the book addictively readable with Spademan's voice established immediately, drawing the reader in right away, but it makes the book move along at an insanely fast pace.

Shovel Ready is fairly dark, which I've said before on the blog is totally fine with me, but if you take issue with certain kinds of content this may not be the best book for you. If you like 'em totally original and twisted though, Shovel Ready the perfect read. There's also a second Spademan book in the works!

As a little extra bonus, for fans of dystopian fiction, Sternbergh posted this recommended reading list over on Huffington Post this week. Check it out.

Rating: 4.5/5

1 comment:

Jennifer | Book Den said...

Shovel Ready is one of the 2014 books I've been really looking forward to. Yay for the dark aspect! but boo for the styling. I may go bananas, too. I'm definitely still going to read it!