454 Pages, Science-Fiction, Experimental Fiction, ???
3 out of 5 stars
This epic tale of a young man with extraordinary powers who fights evil across time, and two planets, is nerd paradise. Written in the humorous and outrageous spirit of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Legendary Sidekick in 4D! is John Haley’s first novel, a unique and unconventional story about wars between samurais, demons, weirdos and geeks. Fresh out of college, the hero is hired as the sidekick to the buffoonish Caped Avenger, and takes the name Errand Boy or as he’s later called, “Eb.” He departs on his journey, or series of journeys, time-traveling and jumping back and forth between worlds as he meets a quirky cast of angels, knights, samurai and three oddball brothers named Sloth, Spork and Bones.
The story is part sci-fi, part adventure, part comedy and something that never takes itself seriously. The author’s eclectic imagination drives an adventure story through a world that is surprisingly very much like our own, but filled with super powers and surprises.
Filled with poems, lyrics, symbols and elaborate diagrams, this is a book unlike any I have ever read. An avant-garde exploration of the superhero epic, the book succeeds in its originality but suffers from its rather disorganized view of itself. This is a book that can’t decide what it wants to be. Jumping back and forth between the past and present tense, the author’s inventive world never quite makes it to the page the way he imagined. For a universe that is intended to be completely original, it is filled with many Earth-like objects and practices such as chocolate chip cookies, going to church, roasting marshmallows, and that arcade claw game where you try and pickup toys and teddy bears.
It could definitely use an edit to tighten the story as this is a long book that took awhile to read. The choppy storytelling lacks structure and sacrifices narrative for gimmicks, some of which payoff.
There is a lot of energy but sadly, not a lot of plot. Hard to digest in big chunks, the book could benefit from less dialogue and more context. I wanted more history of this world, more explanation as to what was happening – why it was happening. Action-packed, with lots of fight scenes, it was sometimes challenging to tell what was going on and who the reader should root for.
To be fair, this is a book that does not take itself seriously and the writing is fun and meant to amuse. A passage I especially liked happens when one of the characters seems to cast a spell over a demon, “…its flesh tanned by the pound to a patchwork of select browns, none of which were found in chocolate, fine furniture or musical instruments, or an any race of human flesh. These were the spectrum of rotting meat and swamp mushrooms. The tans of vomit and the browns of feces…”
If you’re a fan of oddball science fiction and creative worlds were superheroes and sidekicks battle spirits and magical beasts then you might want to check out Legendary Sidekick. The author clearly had a great time writing a story that is definitely one of a kind!
Strengths: original with quirky characters and witty dialogue
Opportunities: longish, confusing at times, too many characters
Will appeal to: science-fiction fans who like their stories with a twist of humor
Legendary Sidekick is available on amazon.
You can check out the book’s trailer here.
Reviewed by Mark McGinty, Spetember 2009