The Grand Dark, by Richard Kadrey

2019-08-12-the-grand-dark-by-richard-kadrey
Richard Kadrey's The Grand Dark reads like he took the little-seen but super fun 2012 film Premium Rush (bike messengers! Crooked cops! Underachieving young adults!) and filtered it through a Grand Guignol-inspired lens. His protagonist is a young man named Largo, who relies on drugs and macabre entertainment to muffle his intense anxiety about the rapidly crumbling world around him. Largo and his beloved girlfriend have it better than some, but even their relative good fortune hangs on a razor's edge, as Largo discovers when an unasked-for promotion at his bike messenger job plunges him into disaster.

The Grand Dark is cinematic and action-packed, and Kadrey infuses nearly every scene with dread. If you're looking for a sci-fi/horror action thriller to get you into the early autumn mood, you could do worse. But I always struggle to suspend my disbelief when I read about people reacting to a hellish reality with frenetic energy, and The Grand Dark is no exception. I enjoyed reading about Largo charging will-nilly through Kadrey's nightmarish landscape, dodging outbreaks of the plague and shady police officers and evil scientists, but a few scenes of him doing the novel's equivalent of scrolling Instagram while pretending to fold laundry would have given the story a much-needed boost of realism.
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Posted by: Julianka

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