Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Starfish Girl (review)

Starfish Girl - Athena Villaverde

"So cute!" This novel(la) is Villaverde's first publication, and it follows the story of Ohime, the starfish girl, as she wanders joyfully through the post-apocalyptic wasteland of a corrupt and violent underwater civilisation. In her travels, she meets Timbre, who is a no-holds-barred sea-anemone assassin. She doesn't like to fuck around. Together they travel through the dangerous lands of their dome society in an attempt to reach a ship that will take them to the surface to restart civilisation on land.

This book is great for a first novel. It's a fun adventure with some great action sequences and some clever and interesting plot points. The style is gothic bizarro. It's not as fucked up as some of the other books I've read, but it's got a dash of shocking here and there.

Now, I read a while ago that Carlton Mellick III mentored her throughout the process of writing this book. After actually reading this book, I can tell. I've read six (well, five and a half, at the moment) of his books, but it's not until now, that I've read Starfish Girl and I'm reading Zombies and Shit at the moment that I've noticed the influence. I'm not talking about content-wise, as Athena seems to have her own stylised world building and characterisation down no problem, but her tendancy to transition to backstories on a regular basis is something that Mellick does a lot. And I must say that it's quite an effective story-building technique (considering I haven't picked up on it until now).

This, I think, is where the novel comes into full form. The characters and the landscape are richly detailed and entertaining, and while the narrative runs in a conventional, linear direction (beginning to end), there is still the impression of dense storytelling through the use of backstories placed in key points throughout the book.

I really enjoyed the book. I read it in one day (and that was taking my time, too), and I must say that I'll be looking for more from this author over the coming years. It's stylistic, it's fun, it's a lovely bizarro book, and it's got a playfully innocent exhubrance similar to Kevin L. Donihe's Washer Mouth. If you've never read bizarro before and you'd like to give it a sample, this book is a great start. It's got a couple of shocking parts, but for the most part, it's surreal and beautiful and gothic, it's captivating and charming, it's short but sweet.

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