The Grind Show by Phil Tucker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Grind Show is an early novel by Phil Tucker that explores a world where demons cohabit with humans. Only a few human beings can perceive them, both through sight and esp. For other humans, these demon fighters are insane. Our protagonist is one of the demon hunters who gets a special unwanted gift from one of the "unclean ones," setting off a course of events that places him opposed to a bad ass mf demon controller.
It's a long sequence of action from the beginning of the story until the end, which works here because it's a span of three days of high-speed insanity. The use of fragments, especially in the action, reinforces this mood. The fast pace is compelling and makes for an easy one-sitting read.
There is also more going on than what is happening at the surface but the story ends without revealing much about the world. We don't know why there were angels or why they left or what any of this means in a philosophical context. Tucker's demons are just evil creatures without many purposes or are they? Is there something deeper going on? Jason, the protagonist, isn't wired to think about philosophy. He is a man of action and few doubts, guided by reckless humor, and unworried about consequences except how it affects his friends.
The best part of the story, indeed, is how Jason, through Twain, Javier, Jeremy, and the others, expresses his loyalty. Earlier in the story, I thought him 2-dimensional and superficial, but Jason grew, rising to the challenge, responding to his errors by evolving. This worked well for me.
This book really needed a careful edit. I looked for an updated edition on Kindle without success, so I'm guessing there are still plenty of errors in the text. Being self-published is no excuse for being sloppy, especially when you can ask people to beta read it for you. There are homonym confusions, grammatical syntax errors, and redundant word choices that can be eliminated even with online tools without much effort. This should have been done.
As for the story itself, for what it aspires as a light demon hunt romp, I have no objections at all. The action is a bit like a Michael Bay film with shotguns going off all the time. The story fulfills the need for violence and action like a glove.
For the characters, I felt there was a bit of a cookie-cutterness to them, but this is a demon hunt, not literary fiction. Jason is often puerile and Twain a bit too lackadaisical about losing, well, everything. Also, this Father Martin is paper thin. What are we really talking about here? What is this language of angels?
I get the feeling that there is more to the story than what is shown.
Still, all in all, it was fun to read.
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