Review – Koko takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea

Posted: July 4, 2014 in Sci-Fi
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I’m fairly positive when I review books mainly because I get to read highly recommended, highly entertaining books for pleasure. But, advance warning, I may gush a little over Kieran Shea’s debut..

Every so often, you pick up a novel by a new writer and it’s a revelation; a work that is so confident and complete, so whole that you wonder at the talent of the author. It’s happened to me before with Richard K Morgan and with Joe Abercrombie. It’s happened again with Kieran Shea. I tore through the book as it was an absolute feast of pithy dialogue and adrenaline pumping action that I couldn’t put it down. I’ve been mixing my reading between a lot of creepy zombie novels and fast paced thrillers lately but after Koko takes a Holiday I might just need a change of pace. The book is so brilliantly centred in its own world that I want to savour the experience. It’s cyberpunk squared, shining a light and amplifying the modern world’s proclivities toward religion, sex, violence and consumerism.

From the opening chapter, we’re dropped into a world that has become hyper sexualised and violent; a world run by mega corporations hell bent on profit points and consumerism. It’s clear that Earth has undergone some fundamental social, environmental and political changes as we’re introduced to the protagonist Koko through her boy-whore. An ex-mercenary for hire, Koko has seen it, done it and retired from a life of heavy duty corporate combat scenarios. Based on the ‘Sixty Islands’, a pleasure resort of all manner of decadent and deviant activities, Koko has put her soldiering days behind her. But, old habits die hard and a seemingly innocuous infraction in her bar/brothel fireballs into a much bigger problem. After taking out a couple of unruly customers in the name of self-defence, Koko suddenly finds herself in serious trouble. Reaching out to her friend and Vice President of the Custom Pleasure Bureau on the Sixty Islands, Portia Delacompte, Koko slowly realises that her past is catching up with her.

On the run and chased down by bounty hunters aboard a sky orbital, Koko meets Flynn, a retiring Sheriff with a debilitating case of depression, and the two embark on a plan. Albeit a kind of off-the-cuff, seat-of-the-pants type plan. As Koko pieces together why her old comrade Portia would want to execute her – and it is a dirty secret that reaches into the core of the world Kieran has built – the action ramps up from crazy to full on, rocket fuelled awesome.

Shea’s protagonists are fantastic and the clash between Koko’s head strong, hard case and Flynn’s depressed, disconnected loser makes a great pairing. With every actor, from Delacompte to an array of bit players, the author adds layer upon layer of depth and reality to his wonderfully crazy world. Little brush strokes hint at a planet irrevocably changed and Shea achieves it with such skill that you can’t help but want more. Thankfully, the book is left wide open for the sequel (to be released next year) and it is one I’ll definitely be eagerly awaiting.

I want to heap praise on Shea’s novel but I doubt I can do it justice beyond marking this one down as highly, highly recommended. Likening the book to other authors such as William Gibson or Richard K Morgan would be similarly unfair to Kieran Shea’s originality, creativity and spark that has produced an awe inspiring debut.

Review copy
Published by Titan books

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