Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh - Fiction/Dystopia/Thriller - BOOK REVIEW - 01/03/2014

1/03/2014 09:04:00 PM

Goodreads description:
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh An addictive genre-blend of a thriller: the immersive sci-fi of Ernest Cline; the hard-boiled rhythms of Don Winslow; the fearless bravado of Chuck Palahniuk; and the classic noir of James M. Cain
Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a bombed-out shell of its former self. Now he's a hitman.

In a New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to "tap into" a sophisticated virtual reality for months at a time and those left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His clients like that he doesn't ask questions, that he works quickly, and that he's handy with a box cutter. He finds that killing people for money is not that different from collecting trash, and the pay is better. His latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist. Finding her is easy, but the job quickly gets complicated: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has an agenda far beyond a simple kill. Now Spademan must navigate the dual levels of his world-the gritty reality and the slick fantasy-to finish the job, to keep his conscience clean, and to stay alive.

Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant
My Take: 

New York in the aftermath of a dirty bomb or two; residents traveling with portable Geiger counters to avoid the most radioactive parts of the city.  Central Park is now a camp - a sort of modern Hooverville.  Those with money who remain dwell almost exclusively in the limnosphere - a computer-generated reality they create for themselves.  The rest take their reality as it comes, or pay for "hits" in generally dirty, one-off  "dorms" where you pay by the hour.

Enter Spademan; a hitman who self-titles himself as a garbageman - he doesn't care why you want someone dead - he only wants to know who it is.  His latest assignment is to kill a young woman who now calls herself Persephone - the daughter of a famous and powerful evangelist.  What he quickly finds out is that Persephone is skilled in knifework, and killing her won't be as easy as it seems.

I absolutely loved this book.  Quick bits of dialogue bring to mind a crime noir, interlaced with a biting humor as well as compassion.  I quickly found myself immersed in Spademan's world.  Great secondary characters, a pervasive theme, and an anti-hero that you find likeable in spite of yourself make this a fabulous must-read for almost any reader and already gave me my first five-star read of the year.

If that's not enough to convince you, take a look at some of the following quotes.

QUOTES (from an eGalley; may be different in final copy):

I had a wife.
Believe it or not.
And I was a garbageman too, if you're interested, a real one.  The kind with garbage, like my dad.  Left that too.  Left most everything eventually.
Whatever hadn't already been taken away.
Now I kill people.
The end.
People get upset when you say you kill people.
Fair enough.
But wait.
What if I told you I only kill serial killers?
It's not true, but what if I told you that?
Now what if I told you I only kill child molesters?  Or rapists?  Or people who really deserve it?
Wavering yet?
Okay, now what if I told you I only kill people who talk loudly in movie theaters?  Or block the escalator?  Or cut you off in traffic?
Don't answer.  Think it over.
Not so self-righteous now.
I'm just kidding.
There's no such thing as movie theaters anymore.

Cut a city in half and you're left with half a city.
But you definitely notice the ones who are gone just as much as the ones who stayed.

It's not the doing-it part that's hard.  It's the justifying-it part.  And I don't do that.
I'm not the decision.  I'm just the action.
I'm just the bullet.
So I don't need to justify it.  Or live with it.
That's your job.

I wonder if I'm expected to answer.  I was always taught not to talk with my mouth full of teeth.

BLOGGERS:  Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.

Writing:  5 out of 5 stars
Plot:   5 out of 5 stars
Characters:  5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion:   5 out 5 stars


Sensitive Reader:  Occasional profanity, some violent (but not graphic) subject matter.

Book Club Recommendation:  Yes; as long as members are comfortable with occasional profanity; I think that this book would initiate some interesting discussions on morality. 

Title:  Shovel Ready
Author:  Adam Sternbergh
Publisher:   Crown Publishing group, an imprint of Random House
Release Date:  January 14, 2014
Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN 10:  0385348991
ISBN 13:  9780385348997

Author website

Read an excerpt (if browsing on the newer Internet Explorer browsers, you may need to add in your compatibility settings for frame to show correctly, or you can click to the publisher's website to view directly):

BUY IT:  At Amazon, The Book Depository, through the publisher's website,  and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.  

Disclosure:  I received an eGalley of this title from the publisher through Edelweiss for review purposes.  No other compensation was received.  Links to Amazon and to The Book Depository are affililate links and I may receive some small monetary compensation if these links are clicked on and purchased through.  

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