Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Eight Million Gods by Wen Spencer

Eight Million Gods
Author:  Wen Spencer
Publisher:  Baen, June 4, 2013
Format:  Hardcover, 368 pages
Price:  $25.00 (print)
ISBN:  978-1-4516-3898-1 (print)
Cover Art:  Tom Kidd
Review copy:  Purchased

A contemporary fantasy of mystery and death as American expats battle Japanese gods and monsters to retrieve an ancient artifact that can destroy the world.

On Saturday afternoon, Nikki Delany thought, "George Wilson, in the kitchen, with a blender." By dinner, she had killed George and posted his gory murder to her blog. The next day, she put on her mourning clothes and went out to meet her best friend for lunch to discuss finding a replacement for her love interest.

Nikki is a horror novelist. Her choice of career is dictated by an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that forces her to write stories of death and destruction. She can't control it, doesn't understand it, but can use it to make money anywhere in the world. Currently "anywhere" is in Japan, hiding from her mother who sees Nikki's OCD as proof she's mentally unstable. Nikki's fragile peace starts to fall apart when the police arrest her for the murder of an American expatriate. Someone killed him with a blender.

Reality starts to unravel around Nikki. She's attacked by a raccoon in a business suit. After a series of blackouts, she’s accompanied by a boy that no one else can see, a boy who claims to be a god. Is she really being pursued by Japanese myths—or is she simply going insane?

What Nikki does know for sure is that the bodies are piling up, her mother has arrived in Japan to lock her up for the rest of her life—and her novels always end with everyone dead.

Trinitytwo's point of view:

Meet Nikki Delany. At 20 years old, her life has been anything but easy. Nikki suffers from severe hypergraphia, the compulsion to write. Compounding her uncontrollable need for pen and paper in hand is the fact that her subject matter tends to be of a graphic and violent nature. Because of Nikki's mental illness, her mother, a powerful senator, sees her as a threat to her political career and insists that she is dangerous although she knows otherwise. In fact, Nikki's mom won't be happy until she can lock her daughter away in the confines of a high security mental institution. Eluding capture proves to challenge all her survival skills, but Nikki is clever and has a network of allies. After a close call, Nikki flees to Japan where she hopes to write in peace. There is an upside to her writing obsession. She has amassed enough money from the sale of her first novel, and an advance on her second, to be self-sufficient. Over lunch with her best friend, pink-haired, manga and anime loving, Miriam, the two discuss the progress of Nikki's second novel and the unfortunate death of all her potential main characters. In fact, her OCD which Nikki refers to as her muse, has compelled her to murder her latest character, in a unique and colorful way. Nikki learns that a murder recently took place in which the victim died exactly as she describes in her unfinished novel. Was the murder committed by a stalker who has hacked her computer or is she truly as crazy as her mother insists? Nikki discovers she must outwit shape shifting monsters, omnipotent gods, a scary secret organization and of course, her relentless mother, to avoid winding up another one of her unhappy endings.

Eight Million Gods intrigued me in many ways. The cover immediately grabbed my attention, and then the book description reeled me in. Sadly, the battle scene on the book's cover never came to fruition although the book description is spot on. An American in Japan, our heroine is suffering from a bad case of culture shock in addition to her myriad of other problems. I must admit to some culture shock as well. The terminology was confusing at times, and I found myself checking "Wen's not completely accurate GLOSSARY of Japanese terms" in the back of the book more often than I would have liked. Nikki is a great heroine. I love the fact that even through all her self-doubts and her imperfect life, she is a fighter; one smart enough to figure out how to turn her weakness into strength. She is the flawed, but capable and intelligent feminine character I always hope for but so seldom find. Nikki's struggle reminds me of a much loved quote by Nora Ephron, "Be the heroine of your life, not the victim." Nikki is so well written that I would love to see this book made into a movie. I know it would translate into something spectacular on the silver screen. Wen Spencer weaves an interesting setting, a complex plot, and highly unusual characters together to create a magical but gritty story fabric that whisks you into a world of gods and monsters in a blink of an eye.


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