Chances are, if you know the name David Wong, you know his mad slacker horror John Dies At The End books, which showed a fiercely creative imagination. His first non-JDATE novel should appeal to die-hard fans while showing he’s a dab hand at action sci-fi too.
In the not-too-distant future, broke barista Zoey is suddenly attacked by a guy who wants to eat her and broadcast it. She’s rescued by the hologram of a mysterious man named Will Blackwater, who directs her to the Las Vegas-like city of Tabula Ra$a, where she learns that her long-absent father was an absurdly wealthy, incredibly powerful man who has just died, leaving everything to her.
Unfortunately, there’s also the fact that she is now the target for a group of jacked-up misogynist psychopaths who have been augmented by scary technology and want all that money. Oh, and they want to murder her in the most horrible way possible because that’s how they roll.
Wong’s trademark sense of humour is still very much present (the opening chapters snarkily let us know that chilli is still known as “chilli”). Zoey is a heroine with a sharp tongue and a backbone, first to call out the ridiculousness of her situation, but also to suggest the most humane solution.
The book’s near future, with its constant first-person streaming, bloodthirsty audiences and grotesque new Vegas is worryingly plausible, and the testosterone-addled, brain-dead, women-hating rage monsters that make up the book’s villains are heavily reminiscent of a certain women-hating online community, making them very easy to root against.
Although it’s packed with sharply observed detail, interesting side characters and Zoey’s scene-stealing cat Stench Machine, once FVAFS gets going it’s pretty breakneck stuff. Hilarious, thrilling and compulsively readable, this is highly recommended.