Futuristic Violence And Fancy Suits

5 Overall Score
Plot: 4/10
Characters: 3/10
Writing: 8/10

Mr. Wong's slick style...

...covers for his tapioca substance.

Futuristic Violence And Fancy Suits
(W) David Wong
2017

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits sounds like a working title that David Wong didn’t find the time to replace, and the novel reads like a second draft he didn’t have time to rework. While it begins promisingly, with a narcissistic cyborg stalking a young girl living in a near-future trailer park with the purpose of eating her live online, it gets a lot worse from there. Mr. Wong neglects most of the principles of fiction and narrative.

He does not involve himself with character arcs at all. The trailer park protagonist, Zoe Ashe, is suddenly plunged into a deadly world of intrigue when her estranged father, Arthur Livingston, dies. Arthur was the billionaire head of a criminal cartel, and he has left a vault filled with who-knows-what secrets and riches. The only way to open the vault is for Zoe to put her head in its keyhole and submit to a brainscan. So now every mercenary and maniac in North America is after Zoe. Leading that pack by a length are the Suits, her deceased father’s four top troubleshooters.

When she finally opens the vault, she discovers that the secret it contains is…she is Livingston’s heir. This plunges her into all the lethal schemes and plots that were her father’s lifelong business, and which killed him in the end. She owns the empire, and she inherits the Suits, who now join her effort to survive the predations of super-villain Molech, a very bad man who is after an illegal super-weapon technology that Zoe now owns.

Zoe changes not at all during the course of the book. She would like to get to the end of the novel alive, untortured, and without the super-villain allowing his minions to gang-rape her. That’s it. That she comes to control her father’s dazzling wealth doesn’t concern her in the least. She doesn’t buy anything bigger than a pizza. She has no plans, no ambitions, and shows zero growth.

No relationship changes. Nobody shows any growth. Not any of the Suits. Not the Slick Guy, not the Big Black Guy with a Slow Drawl, not Cowboy Hat Man, not Hot Asian Chick. Not the Asian Fighter With A Katana On His Back. Not the Latin Lover Bodyguard. (Zoe’s team is so obviously hand-made in the Diversity Shop that I applaud Mr. Wong for practicing the restraint not to go ahead and make Hot Asian Chick a lesbian, too.) And especially, most emphatically not Molech. Yes, let’s talk about Molech, the Execrable Supervillain.

Mr. Wong appears to make a deliberate choice to write Molech as the thinnest of cardboard bullies. Molech’s power is not brains—in fact, he’s so dumb it’s a wonder that our heroes can’t defeat him much faster. Molech’s power is not charm—he is actually, literally, a hat-on-backwards dudebro muscleslab douchenozzle. He is not a schemer, or a plotter, or a man with hidden resources. Molech’s power is literal, physical power; superhuman strength, a railgun, and an army of dog-dumb goons, although how this lump ever convinced anyone to follow him even so far as the Seven Eleven for another twelve pack defies the imagination.

But Mr. Wong cannot get enough of Molech. The character gives one, after another, after another, grating, moronic monologue about his slaughterhouse ideal of social Darwinism. Imagine Darth Vader or Agent Smith as a leering lunkhead who drones on at length about how he can kill and rape anyone he wants to cause it’s, like, totally cool, you know?

Molech never gets an opportunity to deliver on his rape threats, but huge chunks of the book are devoted to him killing, tormenting, shooting and smashing his way through the cityscape of Tabula Ra$a. There are certainly more compelling ways to paint your villain as invincible than another long scene of him chopping through battalions of minor and unnamed characters. He sometimes takes a break from threatening and stalking Zoe to threaten Zoe’s mom, and Zoe’s cat.

What Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits lacks in character development, is does not make up for in plot. There’s no shortage of Sturm und Drang, but very little that is relevant. Molech chases Zoe, Zoe flees. Molech threatens murder, rape, dismemberment, Zoe doesn’t like it. Molech blows up some buildings and guts some people. Repeat. The novel is the literary equivalent of Mr. Wong holding up a white sheet of poster board that says, “Michael Bay, call me!”

Finally, the book is filled with irritatingly stupid character behavior. Arthur’s justification for leaving his complex and lethally dangerous cartel to a twenty-two-year-old with no relevant skills is that she yelled at him once when she was a teenager? None of the Suits, who are supposed to be Grade A security professionals, anticipate that Zoe’s mother is now a target? Why didn’t Arthur just have a law firm notify Zoe of her inheritance, instead of making her the target of a frenzied hunt by dozens of psychopaths? Why don’t the Suits launch a search for the mole when they learn they have a mole? Or at least tighten their information security?

Why doesn’t Zoe use more of her billions and her influence to find and defeat Molech, instead of just talking to the Suits about it?

In the end, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits cannot be recommended. Mr. Wong does write with glossy style and aloof wit. But it’s flat plot, flat characters, and insufferable super-villain make for an unpleasant read.

 

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Brian Downes
Author: Brian Downes View all posts by

Brian Downes is a writer who lives in Orlando, Florida. His novel, The Berlin Fraternity, about a man who hunts vampires for the Third Reich, is available on the Kindle and through Amazon.com. He enjoys pen and paper roleplaying games and geek culture. He clearly remembers waiting for The Empire Strikes Back to hit theaters, and vindicate his opinion that of course Vader was not Luke’s father. You can’t trust Vader’s word!

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