Artificial Continuum

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Larry Doyle is quickly becoming a comedy superstar. A former writer for the Simpsons, and author of the widely successful I Love You, Beth Cooper, Doyle has already shown the world that he has skill in creating successful satire and memorable characters. Doyle continues his success in his recent comedic novel, GoMutants!.

In a world where the monsters, aliens, and events of B-Movie Horror films from the 50's actually exist, J!m, son of a particularly hated invader, must struggle to survive high school. While J!m has problems typical of an American teenager (puberty, girls, bullies, etc.) he also must deal with the fact that his neighborhood suspects him of being an alien terrorist. Luckily, he has the help of his two friends Johnny, a mutant motorcycle-riding ape, and Jelly, a jello like mass passing as a fat kid.

Go Mutants! is a unique premise to say the least. Although its plot relies on the cliches of both the high school comedy and science fiction genres, Go Mutants! never stops feeling surprisingly fresh.

Perhaps the most obvious and striking aspect of the novel is the fascinating world that it takes place in. Although designed as a satire, Doyle manages to breath a surprising amount of life and detail into a land populated by aliens, mutants, robots, etc. Incredible detail is given to the history, politics, and even pop culture of this surreal universe, which is surprising given that the book is a comedy. However, due to Doyle's deadpan and atypical sense of humor, certain confusing aspects are explained so nonchalantly that they required repeated reading to understand.

Despite this flaw, Go Mutants!'s comedy is endlessly funny. While there are the expected pop culture references, Doyle's humor spreads beyond name dropping. The characters and situations presented are enough to deserve a several laughs. That's not to say that Doyle does not use his expertly crafted universe effectively. Fans of the science fiction genre will be able to pick up cameos Gojira, Gort, and even Triffids.

Despite taking cues from 1950's culture, Go Mutants! is relevant, and continuously successful, in its satire. Commenting on topics ranging from the War on Terror to teen society, Doyle's tale is as almost as thought provoking as it is funny. While you won't find anything here as stirring as Catch 22 or other satirical masterpieces, Go Mutants! is a great piece of satirical fiction.

While overshadowed by the world they inhabit, the characters that populate the world are certainly notable in their own right. Each are interesting, and their plights believable and sympathetic, if slightly cliched.

While it may best be enjoyed by fans of the science fiction genre, Doyle's latest comedy is well worth the read.

Score: -A