About the Book
JOHN GOLDEN IS A DEBUGGER: he goes inside the computer systems of his corporate clients to exterminate the gremlins, sprites, and other fairies that take up residence. But when he gets a frantic call from Serpentine Systems, a top-of-the-line anti-fairy security company, John finds out he’s on much more than a simple smurf-punting expedition. With the help of his sarcastic little sister Sarah (currently incarnated in the form of a Dell Inspiron) and a paranoid system administrator, John tackles Serpentine’s fairy problem. But the rabbit hole goes deeper than he thinks, and with the security of all of the company’s clients in danger, there’s more at stake this time than John’s paycheck!
This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.
You know who I’m talking about. They made a movie about him. He spelled out his name in that rough, deep tone that made people just remember it – D-J-A-N-G-O and then he brought the hurt down on some people. It was on all the previews. You know who I’m…
Okay I’ll stop kicking the dead horse. You all know our lovely Django Wexler not only for the awesome name, but also because he smashed his way into the speculative fiction scene in grand form last year with his triumphant release of The Thousand Names. Everyone loved it. Everyone wants more.
NOW you know who I am talking about.
Well, lucky you, our darling Django Wexler, the man with such a fun name, hasn’t just limited himself to epic fantasy. Today Wexler released a novella called John Golden: Freelance Debugger. In proper Wexler form he took a genre that is almost too saturated (urban fantasy) and slammed his way into it with something new, eye catching, and unique.
John Golden tells the story of a man (Surprise! His name is ‘John’) who fixes computers by debugging them. While that might seem fine and dandy, the truth is that the entire premise of how this protagonist debugs computers (and just what the “bugs” are) is just about as interesting as anything else in the novel. Despite the fact that this is a novella, Wexler packs quite a story into his few short pages (62 pages, actually).
Don’t let the technospeak and the footnotes (that take time to get used to), put you off. While typically people like their text to flow certain ways, and footnotes generally aren’t one of those ways, Wexler uses all this space to really play with his words. I absolutely ended up loving the footnotes and everything else, even though I was pretty set on hating them when I started the book. it’s actually quite easy to sink into the style and feel of the novel. It’s part Jim Butcher, with a dollop of noir, and all unique to Wexler. In a novel this short, Wexler doesn’t really have time to ease people into his world or the style of his writing, and while I’d normally struggle with that sort of thing, I really didn’t in this case. The footnotes felt a little jarring at first, but I got over it pretty fast.
The story itself moves at a fast pace, as you’d expect, and it’s a lot of fun. Part urban fantasy, with plenty of the creatures we’ve all seen before, but used completely differently than you’d expect. Perhaps what surprised me the most is just how much Wexler managed to pack into sixty-two pages. The story is more complex than I expected, and the technology blend with urban fantasy is so well fleshed out that it feels real. Furthermore, the secondary characters add a wonderful, humorous, and dynamic punch to the story. Their voices are far more memorable and individual than I would expect an author to be able to accomplish in so few pages.
All in all, John Golden is a hell of a lot of fun. It moves fast, and has a relaxed, self-assured feel to it that makes it easy to just sink into and enjoy (once you get used to the footnotes). The world, while fairly narrow in scope, is very well fleshed out. Some stylistic things might be off-putting to some readers, like the technospeak and the footnotes, but you’ll soon realize just how clever they all are. All in all, John Golden is a novella that could easily have been a novel. There’s a lot here, and while it is a lot of fun, it really shows off just what Wexler is capable of as an author. He’s confident, dynamic, and really sticks out. He takes saturated genres and he makes them his own. He did it with The Thousand Names, and now he’s done it again with John Golden.
There are some novels you read and you just know the author had a ton of fun writing them, and so they are fun to read because of that. John Golden is one of those. I think Wexler must have had a blast writing it, and I ended up having a blast reading it.
(P.S. I generally don’t enjoy novellas because they aren’t ever “long enough” for my taste. I am honestly amazingly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. I didn’t expect to. My major complaint is that it wasn’t long enough. MORE, WEXLER. I WANT MORE.)