Offbeat and Fun with “Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits”, by David Wong - Book Review

This has to be the strangest and one of the most fun books I’ve read. And I would never had picked it up had it not been for a youngin’ at work. He was describing the morbidly funny t.v. shows and books he’s into. None sound appealing, but he was pretty passionate about David Wong. I think I probably wanted to be in with the cool kids. Just a little. I bought it, then it sat around for a long time. Okay, finally picked it up. And am so glad I did. 

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits takes place, as the title gives away, sometime in the future. There are references to today’s political landscape that help shape it. There are self driving cars (manual is illegal), video screens everywhere, and bizarre superpowers.  We still have stores like Lane Bryant (I didn’t even think they were around today) and television like National Geographic. Our tale takes place primarily in Tabula Ra$a. Yep, that’s a dollar sign instead of the “s”, which is a clear indication of the city’s decadence.

Tabula Ra$a is home to Arthur Livingston who established the town after Las Vegas became too strict. It’s a city with few laws; where private security forces trump law enforcement; and where there is always a party. Livingston is a shady character, but his nemesis, Molech, is even shadier. Throughout the book, we’re entertained by Livingston’s sense of twisted humor. For example, having a mustache himself, he uses the whiskers as a general symbol, including, “a giant gold mustache that was inlaid in the black marble tile” of his building’s lobby.

Molech has killed Livingston and obtained access to some kind of super power technology originally designed for military use. Now, Livingston’s team, The Suits, must find out how to stop Molech. But a most unlikely person holds the key - Livingston’s estranged daughter, Zoey Ashe.  It’s a tangled story that Wong does a wonderful job of unraveling.

Zoey is living in a trailer with her stripper mother in a small town in Colorado. The town knows little of Tabula Ra$a and its decadent ways. It’s a blue collar area where people work hard to earn a living. Unbeknownst to Zoey she is being tracked down. There is a bounty on her head, and nut job is looking for her. She seems to be the only one who doesn’t realize this. The people hunting her down all have some kind of physical mutation thanks to experimentation with the super power technology. It’s pretty frightful and gruesome. Oh, and by the way, folks from the big city all have electronic glasses that record and playback events. So the hunt for Zoey is being broadcast to millions.

Have I lost you? Stay with me. This book is definitely not for everyone, but it’s awfully fun. Wong brings a unique sense of humor to each of the characters. As Zoey is convinced to go to Tabula Ra$a early in the book, she boards a train alone: “Zoey didn’t want to be paranoid, but there was something about the man in the loincloth made of charred doll heads that made her nervous."  Even the repugnant Molech, brazenly forward, shirtless and bombastic, is droll in his idiocy. 

Anti-heroes in costumes, a cat named Stench Machine, and a villain with a metal jaw. These are all horrible and hilarious aspects to David Wong’s book. I liked it. A lot. Though I’m still not sure if I’m one of the cool kids.

Published: 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martins Press

Vickie’s rating: 4 stars