Cower not, fierce readers! Today we have a fine tale from Declan Finn, who graciously provided me with a copy of the book. He had actually boasted a bit about this book before launch, and that had me a bit concerned, but those were mislaid. Declan has written a very fine tale, full of crimes against the Narrative. Let the charges begin!
First, this book is an action parody of persons and events that may be familiar to the reader. If one is remotely acquainted with the Sad and Rabid Puppies groups, and the Hugo Award ceremonies of the last years, you have a background to laugh at the real and imagined versions of these actors. Mr. Tom Knighton does appear as a version of himself herein, but all the others are identifiable parody caricatures.
To expand, some sections of the book are rewritten and edited versions of entries in Declan's Sad Puppies Bite Back blog entries. While not a necessary read, I do recommend it, as well as the previous Sean Ryan material for background. The parody of the boycotted publisher is better here than the original.
Second, religion plays a fair sized role within this, though less than is customary for one of Mr. Finn's novels. Sean Ryan is a Catholic, but many of the players in the Tearful Puppies are of course White Mormon Males. And one or two also have great racks.
Third, the fictional convention, WyvernCon, is a pretty good depiction of a con getting demolished. Not actual demolition, but there's mayhem. Not having been to DragonCon, I cannot comment on the reflection of that, but there are elements definitely in common with GenCon, from the SocJus idiots to the cosplay contingent, which is heaviest on Saturday.
Ah, I'll drop the facade a little. This book hooked me harder than anything he's written yet, and I really like his previous stuff. The pacing was amazing, all the slow parts had purpose, and the action didn't let up until bodies fell. I felt like there wasn't a wasted word in this book(yes, there are a few small proof edits that could be fixed, I'm not gonna complain about those). I went and read very late when I finished, and I have to get up EARLY for work. My only minor quibble about this is that some of Sean's supporting cast don't get as rich a treatment as they have previously. Other than that, I was amazed at what Declan spun out of the cloth of Sad Puppies bite back and Sean Ryan.
Set to Kill is bound to trigger anyone who is a devotee of Tor books, or believes that the Hugos are still prestigious and valid in the world of sff. It not only goes against the narrative, but openly mocks it for its cronyism, othering, inconsistency, and lack of tolerance. With a good measure of over the top, but almost believable violence. Verdict: 9 of 10 fell deeds.
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.