Original publish date: 17 October 2014
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
In a gritty noir world, you find the number, call, give a name and leave out the backstory, pay the man, and then your problem disappears–unless it’s a kid, because “that’s a different kind of psycho.”
Spademan was and is a garbage man. He takes care of the waste in the New York City area. Before the radioactive erosion, he took your actual garbage; after, he’s in a different branch of waste disposal, a rather messier kind. Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh follows Spademan on his contracts, with close attention to one for a young woman named Grace Chastity Harrow (code name Persephone), the daughter of the religiously popular and followed T.K. Harrow. Of course, there are issues for Spademan when it comes to this hit, and the story evolves from a simple kill to bringing down the greedy control T.K. Harrow has over the populace.
The story is well written, with a quick pacing (I read this in about 2.5 hours) and distinct voice that is sharp and to the point–fitting for the no-nonsense personality of Spademan. The is no traditional quoted dialogue; rather, all dialogue is told though Spademan recalling the conversation without any of the he said, she said nonsense. The concept of the narrative plays quite a bit off of Neuromancer by William Gibson, which was later adapted into the movie that more people are familiar with, The Matrix. While it helps to have the basic understanding from these works, it’s not necessary in order to understand the concept of “tapping in” to an alternate reality for your mind while your body remains behind. My one real contention with the book is how the world of the story was established. It took a while to get to the crux of what happened to launch NYC into a practically post-apocalyptic setting. Having some more idea of the ruins and what precipitated it would have made it clearer and easier to envision the kind of near-future established.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.