Mini review: Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen

I got that book courtesy of the author and Melissa from Books and Things – thank you both very much! It came free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Welcome to the claustrophobic, bleak Melbourne of the future where people called Deviants are hunted by the Seeker Branch of the Police. Hospitals no longer exist to heal or rehabilitate but to terminate your life. Real milk and real eggs are luxuries for the Rich and every woman had undertaken a lot of cosmetic enhancements.

Floyd Maquina, also addressed to as Two-Seven-Two-Seven is a freshly recruited police officer undergoing an in house training which is intended to hone his skills and develop his response times. It is also done to gauge his current psychological status which is far from rosy. He decided to join the forces in order to help his terminally ill wife, Veronica, whose hospitalization cost him a small fortune.

To let off the steam he drinks, smokes and meets with an attractive coworker, Nina Canyon a.k.a Laurel. He calls her his “femme fatale” because she dresses like some old movies’ heroines (Lauren Bacall for example). The situation deteriorates swiftly when during the training the Police make him think he killed his wife and then he is informed that she really died in Hospital. Then Laurel is relocated to the Hospital as well and nobody knows why. Finally the restaurant guests where Floyd is having dinner with his sister are attacked by a pair of deviants. Floyd defends himself and his sister becoming an instant tv celebrity. Now he is given more and more ‘assignments’ which are recorded by embedded reporters and broadcast as live entertainment. He even gets a serious business proposition he can hardly refuse as it might free Laurel from the Hospital clutches. Will he find out what is going on?

What I liked:

  • Many oh so many references to different good old movies – it would be impossible list them all here. I can’t remember when my cinema knowledge was so tested in a book. Apocalypse Now, The Seventh Seal, Bullit, The Third Man, That Certain Feeling, The Maltese Falcon, All About Eve, Seven Samurai, Soylent Green – you name it. Fortunately they are all listed at the end of the book.
  • Mixing Japanese culture with the cinema noir was definitely a good, original move. It created an atmosphere.

What I didn’t like:

  • Underdevelopped baddies department. It was never sufficiently explained who Deviants were and why they were hunted down. Hylax, the big bad company was never fully presented in its ugliness either. 
  • It took me some time to get into the rhythm of the narration. The book was readable but not easily so. Maybe it was a deliberate trick.
  • The main hero, Floyd, was presented as strangely suppressed guy. His wife dies, then he loses his girlfriend and his defense mechanisms never kick in – he goes to work, he drinks, business as usual.
  • The ending left me puzzled – so it is enough to kill one baddie to have all your problems solved and the title goat was a real goat? Where did it come from?
  • Too many f –words. I know the main lead is seriously depressed and he lives in a harsh world but when the number of f-words exceeds 5-6 on one page I get annoyed. You can always let your readers know about the harsh situation in a more subtle way. If you don’t know how, consult old movies.

Final verdict:

The idea was great, the main hero – coherent and even honourable to some extend, despite harsh conditions, but the execution I found a bit botched, especially when it came to the world building and such. All in all I am not sold – sorry.

Lauren BacallCover of Lauren Bacall
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15 Responses to Mini review: Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    It sounds pretty meh to me, actually really meh. Not a book I would pick up in the end

  2. anachronist says:

    I wasn't impressed either but as the opportunity presented itself here is my honest review…

  3. I do feel a need to relax with a few old movies. 🙂

  4. anachronist says:

    Yes, some of them are perfect for a relaxing evening!

  5. Lena says:

    The title alone is a mouth full. I like that even though your opinion was not favorable, you still gave an honest review. I'm not partial to alot of f* bombs either, 5 or 6 in an entire novel is quite enough, but on one page, it's just gratuitous.

  6. Hmmm…the title alone baffles me…Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat? Odd. Didn't sound like anything I'd pick up, but I do enjoy your reviews, nonetheless. Although, now I'm pondering my cinema memory. I also have a need to watch some Japanese flicks. Thanks :DJenIn the Closet With a Bibliophile

  7. Ideas, alone, don't make a good book, unfortunately. Fab honest review 🙂

  8. anachronist says:

    Thanks girls *blushing deeply* I always try to find good and bad sides of a book, no matter whether I enjoy it or not. Ideas alone are not enough, I do agree Melissa.

  9. It sounds a little bit like Blade Runner.

  10. anachronist says:

    Blade Runner was imvho loads better but I've always been a big fan of Philip Dick.

  11. Tracy says:

    I was going to say that it reminded me a little of Philip K Dick – the goat is a real goat? The electric sheep in the original Blade Runner book, 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep', is a real electric sheep.The title of this one would make me curious, but after your review the book doesn't appeal.

  12. anachronist says:

    Well, the best way to check whether a book works for you or not is to read it yourself but, as I said, I was not sold so I can't recommend it with clear conscience.

  13. And fair enough, too – thanks for taking the time out to do the review (even though I was saddened by the negative outcome!).Actually, most of the reviews have been really positive – I think it's more a matter of taste rather than anything else.If anyone here is curious, there's a free PDF d/load version available at my publishers, Another Sky – you don't need to buy the paperback to see for yourself, which is nice! ;)http://www.anothersky.org/in-print/tobacco-stained-mountain-goat-andrez-bergen/

  14. anachronist says:

    Thank you for a visit and a comment, Mr Bergen. I do agree it is rather a matter of taste. As a reader you know fully well that no author can force anybody to like his/her book, no matter how hard he/she tries. Even the best writers have met with criticizm, sometimes even unjust but still… I wish you all the best – a great career, many fantastic novels and a lot of faithful fans!

  15. Thanks, mate – and really appreciated! You too. 😉

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