Posts Tagged ‘Kieran Shea’

IMG_6184.JPG

I read Kieran Shea’s debut and it was a definite hit. Similarly, Off Rock has all the panache, creativity and excitement but this time packaged up as a classic crime caper set in a far future, space mining facility. There’s a good natured vibe to the book that keeps the fun ratcheted up high even when the action truly kicks off.

Jaded and complacent, Jimmy Vik, is fairly set in his ways, working for various mining companies that exploit the material rich outer reaches of space. He’s bounced around, lived the maxim of ‘work hard, play hard’ and is now getting to that stage in life where he’s stuck with his lot and doesn’t care one way or the other. That is until he discovers a seam of gold, missed by the company scans and ripe for the taking. To Jimmy, it’s the chance to start everything afresh regardless of the very severe and life threatening punishment that comes with appropriating the mining company’s property.

It sets in motion a series of events, bluffs and double crosses as Jimmy is stiffed by his accomplice, Jock. An indebted gambler with a huge criminal cartel on his case, Jock takes little time stitching up Jimmy. Off Rock has, to my mind, the feel of the Ocean’s Eleven movie as each actor brings to the story another complication. Setting up the main heist story for the first half of the book, things quickly unravel as Jock puts his own plan in motion. Sure enough, Jock the fixer is greasing wheels and doing deals. But, the cartel have eyes on him and are determined to get the account settled or, more accurately, terminated. Add in to the mix Jimmy’s ex-girlfriend and supervisor, who is far from stupid and tough to boot, the gold has gone from a sure thing to a hard sell.

Off Rock is, from start to finish, a brilliantly fun read. It hits all the right notes of a caper as everyone scrambles to get their slice of the pie. Jimmy, as hard as he tries, continues to blunder into obstacles, and it looks like he’ll be lucky to get out alive. Off Rock is a strikingly impressive feat of writing from the characters and banter to the plot and conclusion. When all is said and done, this is a book that will keep you thoroughly entertained and leave you with a smile on your face.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

20140704-075437-28477055.jpg

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