Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh| Book Review


Genre: Adult, Science Fiction, Noir

Source: Blogging For Books (in return for an honest review)

“No matter what you have, or how lucky you think you are, there’s nothing in this world you can hold on to so tightly that it can’t be taken from you.”
-Adam Sternbergh, Shovel Ready

Series: Spademan Duology

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a bombed-out shell of its former self. Now he’s a hitman.

In a New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap into” a sophisticated virtual reality for months at a time and those left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His clients like that he doesn’t ask questions, that he works quickly, and that he’s handy with a box cutter. He finds that killing people for money is not that different from collecting trash, and the pay is better. His latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist. Finding her is easy, but the job quickly gets complicated: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has an agenda far beyond a simple kill. Now Spademan must navigate the dual levels of his world-the gritty reality and the slick fantasy-to finish the job, to keep his conscience clean, and to stay alive.

Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant.[Goodreads]

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*Special thanks to Blogging For Books for providing me with Shovel Ready to read and review!*

An addictive genre-blend of a thriller: the immersive sci-fi of Ernest Cline; the hard-boiled rhythms of Don Winslow; the fearless bravado of Chuck Palahniuk; and the classic noir of James M. Cain (from Goodreads)

I could not state it better myself. This book was an intense thrill ride that was so unique and fresh with some truly intriguing elements. This book takes place in a “futuristic” New York City in the aftermath of some bombings and devastation that has led many people to leave the city. The new activity that has plagued the city is referred to “tapping in” to a virtual fantasy world almost similar to second life, but you are virtual participating rather than creating an avatar on the computer. The city is almost barren with a majority of the people spending all their time in bed “tapping in”. This was an interesting concept that was added to the story, it played a large role and really had me intrigued. The story is told in first person from the perspective (almost a stream of consciousness style although there are situations where there is no way he could know what is happening) of Spademan a past garbageman and now a contracted assassin who has many issues he is struggling with. He is humorous, melancholy  and like in a lot of noir, Spademan is an anti-hero.

The scenes and world are so well detailed and developed that you can see the devastation in the streets, smell the garbage of what New York has become and see the blood dripping from the box cutter. This is a dark story with some mature content including violence and murder. I mean Spademan is an assassin. There were some intense plot twists and the story took some turns that I was not fully expecting, but lead the story in a different way that I felt like added more to the story than just following an assassin in a “post apocalyptic” society . You get to see everything from his perspective and how he came to be where he is and all the changes that happened and are happening in the city.

The writing style of staccato prose and cold dialogue add to the dark story and play into the  feelings and mind of Spademan. It also helped to make it a fast read layered with suspense and that creepy feeling of living in such a world and circumstances that are bestowed upon Spademan. Although I had some slight issues with the plot (the way it ended) that I thought let me down a little from how it started, I did feel like the plot kept moving and did overall achieve a story that was both suspenseful and had me in awe in regards to the setting, the overall character development and all of the technology.

(I have also seen things about this becoming a movie and I am very intrigued to see how this would turn out)



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