Fiction/Science Fiction

IP Book Reviewers

Reviewed: 2012

In J.N. Sadler's novel, Neighbors, a reclusive man reluctantly enters into the world of alien beings after a brief encounter with his new neighbor. It is a strange story with a science fiction slant that features abductions and an outrageous amount of pizza consumption. 

Oxnard Chockley has lived on Whipple Street his entire life. He never married. He lived with his parents until they passed away. Oxnard never learned to drive, and he still sleeps in the single bed of his youth. After retiring from the assembly line at Jinx and Dawson Ball Bearing Works, Oxnard spends his days watching television, completing puzzles, caring for his cat, Bacchus, and eating. Every evening he walks across the street to the neighborhood pizza place and orders dinner. 

During one evening excursion to the pizza joint, Oxnard encounters a strange little man dressed in a gray cape. The man looks severely deformed. Oxnard greets the odd little man whose voice sounds like an electric whistle. The man returns the greeting then takes off for the recently sold house in the neighborhood. When Oxnard returns home with his pizza, his phone begins to ring. As he looks out of his window at the house the strange man occupies, Oxnard can see the man is on the phone watching him. 

Oxnard's solitary life quickly changes. Later in the night, he is abducted from his home and renamed Number Billion One. Billion One is transformed into a being much like the strange man he met near the pizza restaurant. The force that controlled the stranger now controls Billion-One. His mission is to abduct Billion Two. But there is a change in plans when Oxnard as Billion One meets Gladiola. 

The story gets complicated as Oxnard/Billion One moves back and forth between the world the alien force places him in and his life in his own home. The mission of the alien force is revealed, but not entirely clarified. My sense is that this book will be interesting to young adults who enjoy quirky science fiction. The author has my rapt attention until the alien abductions begin. While Sadler does impart an interesting twist to eject the socially anxious, isolated Oxnard out of his comfort zone, a little more substance in the plot would have made him a more interesting character. 

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Big Town

Blueink Review

Reviewed: January 2013

A morbidly overweight couple gets more than they bargained for when they check into a futuristic, government-sanctioned fat farm in this unusual novel from author Janet Sadler.

Rose Caledero and Bruno Weiler are big, big people, weighing 300 and 350 pounds, respectively. With their wedding on the horizon, Rose is lured into responding to a mysterious weight-loss advertisement.

Soon, the couple finds themselves in Big Town, a government-sanctioned "weight reduction energy plant." Their overlord is the ruthless Steven Shadow, who works for a flamboyant sugar baron fittingly named Sugar Gannon. Under the relentless supervision of three sentient robots, Rose and Bruno are allowed to eat whatever they want, so long as they Work a treadmill all day. Unbeknownst to them, their fat is also being siphoned off surgically in the middle of the night. "You have created an almost fool-proof way to lose weight," Shadow tells Gannon "After it is perfected...the government will have a healthier, happier public to deal with. They won't even care if they have money. They will be thin, at last."

After Rose's mother panics, two rogue agents are sent in to infiltrate the facility: Willie Billicker; a good cop gone bad; and Bernie Crawford, a bumbling CIA agent. Things, as they do, go awry. Bruno is nearly killed during his treatments, while Bernie meets an untimely end at the hands of the rogue robots.

Some of the expository dialogue can be clunky at times. ("I'm so excited," says Rose. They say that the results are almost instantaneous, and the food is full of nutrients and is delicioust) But despite a few faults, Big Town remains an imaginative, high-pitched charade that uses America's obesity epidemic to good end to satirize the weight loss industry via the shadowy antics of its men in black. Fans of malevolent satire from the likes of Max Barry or Chuck Palahniuk may find this futuristic nightmare to their liking.

Also available as an ebook.

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The Moneyscope