Monsterland: Reanimated Review

Threads were left dangling at the end of the first novel, storylines are sure to be followed up on in this second novel, and there are also more monsters in play this time!
But can Michael Okon take what was a pretty damn good opening salvo and turn it into a series that’s worth coming back to again and again?
Can he up the game any more than he did last time?

As is my way, consider this your ***Spoiler Alert***

After an opening where Konrad’s head is rescued by his assistant, Igor, after a pack of wolves ripped it off at the end of the last book, we jump ahead 3 weeks to find a nearly depressed Wyatt Baldwin trying to understand his place in regular life after killing monsters and saving friends.
The government we knew is gone.
All contact with the world outside of Copper Valley is basically cut off.
Carter, Wyatt’s step pappy, is trying to get the town back in order and on its feet.
All while a sinister plot is about to unfold around them.

This adventure in Copper Valley proves, if nothing else, that Okon loves to subvert expectations.
This book is a lot like Kevin Smith’s Red State or The Last Jedi, just when you think it’s about to turn left or right all three just say fuck it and kick it in reverse.
The girl with my favorite arc from the last book, Jade?
Long gone is the kickass girl that was splitting heads, now she is almost childlike in her innocence and clinging to Wyatt.
She is replaced by a possibly shape shifting new girl named Lily in the badass department.
Though Jade does end up serving a purpose, Lily is a better and far more capable character from the moment she’s introduced.
Wyatt, our main character, seems to struggle with where he wants to be.
He can’t quite settle on being a cog in the machine of the group or its leader.

His friend Melvin, who offered himself up to be turned into a werewolf in the previous book, may well be my favorite character this time out the gate.
Last time he felt a little too weak and nerdy, but now he has grown to be a take charge leader of his hybrid Wolf/Coyote pack.
But he also leads to my sole major complaint.
Once The Blob like Glob shows up, Melvin’s pack sacrifices themselves to the gelatinous beast to save him.
Later in the book, which amounts to mere hours later, he rather nonchalantly has moved on and nipped a few other critters and started a new pack.
He really seemed to have a great bond with the 1st group, so moving on so quickly felt a little too cold.
Though there is a member of the new faction that makes it slightly more palatable.

The new monsters in this installment are great!
And, unsurprisingly so, that’s exactly the strength of this series, the creatures.
1st we have the alien fuel-like substance, that the kids call The Glob in honor of the aforementioned Blob, that sucks life out of humans to convert into energy.
The Glob is woven into the origins of 2 of the other new beasts, making for a great sense of comic bookery and continuity.
It also has a weakness that is set up in the 1st book in a deceptively nonchalant way that could almost blast by you if you don’t read these back to back, cause it’s easy to retroactively spot and appreciate it.

Next we have mummies, which I thought were pretty cleverly “brought back to life”.
The zombies that were snuffed out on opening night are wrapped in Glob soaked bandages which brings them back to life and makes them more mindless than before.
Vincent Konrad is revived through Glob as a Frankenstein’s Monster-esque behemoth, though with more intelligence off the bat than the inspiration, bent on world domination.
Lastly we have ghosts making the scene and helping our heroes to purge the scum of Konrad from their sacred site.

To start wrapping up, I have to say Okon balances all of these continuing threads and sets up so many potential future storylines with surprising ease.
It’s hard to put into words and not make it sound like a supreme clusterfuck trainwreck, you really need to witness the execution to understand and appreciate the plates this dude is spinning.
The relationship between Wyatt and Carter is the best arc this go around.
They sort of head back to square one after the quantum leap forward at the end of book one.
At the end of this book, there is no going back again and that’s a good thing.
And Wyatt walking off into the darkness at the end sets up so many potential futures, I can’t wait to see where it goes.

The truth is, while not my favorite book series, I’m fully on board with this saga.
He definitely upped the game and went full tilt post-apocalypse, which is the logical step and bonus points because he pulled it off.
There are slight changes I would have made, I would definitely slow down the pace and spread these stories over a couple days instead of doing the 1 story in 1 day format.
But it does work as is.
Even as all of the heaviness settles in, it still has a tension breaking lightness that makes it accessible.
I repeat what I said last time: “half of me wants to say run out and grab this now, but the other half of me wants to tell you to hold off until book 3 comes out.
I think you’ll devour these 1st 2 fast and immediately be hungry for more.”
Now I have to start the long wait for book 3.
Damn you, Okon!

Share this lost on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @acferrell1976 for her editorial help.

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Tough Shit Review

If you are a fan of Kev Smith, you’ve probably read this book already, maybe even multiple times.
Or maybe you were like me, a huge fan of Kev but somehow this book just kept slipping through your grasp for one reason or another.
Either way, that’s okay.
As with much of Kev’s work, it’s always there, like a warm hug ready to engulf you in its loving embrace.

We try not to talk too much about Kev because in podcasting it gets a bit tiresome and redundant because EVERYBODY does it, but the gloves are off, it’s all gonna hang out here, gang.
If you haven’t guessed…yeah, this is gonna be one of THOSE reviews, just a slobbering suck off of Kwigleeuh proportions.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, about 85-90% of this book is shit you’ve heard Kev say on a stage or in a podcast 3 or 4 times.
But, much like your favorite band that tries to sling new songs at you or a comedian that wants to work new material, you’re not gonna be pissed if they just stick to the hits.
Think about it, were most people ever like “fuck me, here comes Carlin with this 7 Dirty Words shit again.”?
No, folks wanted him to continue using that bit, but he took it as far as he could and left it behind.
Kev did the same here, he collects the hits and, though he still told some of these stories after, he didn’t bang the drum on them all forever.
And not for nothing, but presenting it in a new medium actually makes these stories feel fresh again.
That’s a great thing about him too!

With podcasts we have hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of his voice, he’s done 6 Stand-Up esque specials, countless interviews, so while reading this book you hear him more clearly in your head than most writers.
It feels more like he’s creepily whispering the stories of Cop Out, Red State, and SouthWest in your ear, hot breath on your neck, caressing your moob, and squeezing it ever so slig…maybe that’s just me…um, anywho!
It feels like he’s telling the tales directly to you, is my point!

Part of that 10-15% that you’ve not heard is painstaking detail about an incident with an unruly mega star on the Cop Out set (3 guesses who!), the inner workings of pulling off Sundance and the road show details of Red State, and then the general inspirational shit that he sorta says all the time but is presented in a fresh way.
The blow by blow account of the SouthWest incident and media bias against tubby fucks (like myself) is painful to read, but true.
Mocking fat people is still one of the only socially accepted, and in some cases encouraged, form of prejudice.
The theater and denial involved are just disgusting and, though he has lost a lot of weight since his heart attck, this particular albatross is forever around his neck as some folks still see him as that fat guy that tried flying.

He devotes a lot of time to SModcast and the creation of the SModcast Podcast Network, specifically TESD and how that turned into the Comic Book Men (RIP), his family and friends, love and relationships of all sorts, and passion, but the chapter that really, truly, brings the house down is the chapter on Carlin and Carnegie.
The story of his Dad bringing him the albums, meeting with George for Dogma, rocking one of the grandest stages of them all, and turning that into creative fuel is gold.

The bottom line is this: Kev knows how to spin a yarn.
Most chapters easily flow into the next with an ease that makes it hard to not read 50 to 100 pages at a clip.
This is the 1st book he’s truly written (the others were just collected material never intended to go together) and it’s a great 1st outing.
The thing this makes me most excited for though is the day Smitty decides he wants to write a novel.
Because this proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that he could do it better than most.
And I’m happier than a pig in shit that he’s still around to potentially do it.
If you are a fan, don’t wait as long as I have to check this out.
It is more than worth it.