Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #17. And this time, another book I can use to pick my teeth with. Hmm. There’s that piece of pulpy fanfiction smut between my molars this can get rid of. Better.
I think I know what is wrong with Reboot. It came to me while I was chatting to a friend about the manga Claymore, and he was talking about how it wasn’t the kind of manga he normally read. He was at a bit of a loss for words before he pinned down what he thought was off with the manga (aside from all the gore and dark stuff). It was mainstream, he said. Now, before you write him off as a hipster who is in love with skinny jeans and organic foods, let me tell you what he told me.
It’s not that Claymore is clichéd, or done wrongly. It’s just that you know what to expect from it. For someone experienced in manga (or at least, reads it more than I do), they’d pick up Claymore and think “hey, look, a new manga about how X hero needs to get stronger to defeat Y villain, with a lot of conflict about how powerful X hero is. Totally seen this before, but good”. However, with someone like me, who is new to most manga and doesn’t know what the general conventions are, I’d pick up Claymore and go… well, exactly like I did.
But, if my friend picked up a novel like Reboot, he would think “whoa, this book portrays a not-so-far-away future after a game-changing war/societal collapse where society has pretty much gone to hell, and then throws in cool teen characters full of angst and hormones and makes them react to this terrible world, purely because they’ve undergone some event which they cannot change and can’t get out of, and now they need to survive and escape this dystopia/bring about a revolution/survive long enough to finally shag that love interest…” Sound like anything you know?
So yeah. Maybe this is just me responding to way too much young adult fiction, or I might be a little bit thrown thanks to the fact that I really should be using the time it takes for this post to be written to be finishing all-important work, but I’m beginning to go a little bit off these sci-fi post-apocalypse poncy fluff-filled indelible rags. You can literally taste the angst on some of them, and the fact that Reboot has a kind of cold and detached angst which serves to highlight how inhuman the protagonist is does lend something akin to flavour to this otherwise very vanilla theme, but it isn’t enough to save it.
One last damming criticism. All of these teeny-bopper-equivalent books, they have one last linking theme. The third bloody person. Gone are the days where a fun and loveable character is written about as if they are describing the events to you (yeah, I’m looking at you Uncle Rick). Now it’s all cold and unfeeling third person wash, and they expect you to relate to the characters! It’s incredible that people don’t acknowledge that sometimes you just need to have someone explain things to you in-character sometimes. Just look at the Kane Chronicles’ take on things happening in first-person past tense. Now there was a story-within-a-story!
Reboot was published in 2014 by HarperCollins. It can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear