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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gil's All Fright Diner--A. Lee Martinez

Yep, my brain has slumped into a summer reading mode which is likely to include a lot of light-weight fiction.  You might encounter the odd The Secret Agent or other more notable piece of fiction in among the fray--but don't count on a lot of it.

This one was an anomaly.  I picked it up in the bookstore and started reading and was hooked by the road trip of a werewolf and a vampire wandering through the desert Southwest and nearly running out of gas as the coast into Mel's All Night Diner.  When they get out of the car, they face the restaurant's owner battling it out with a horde of zombies (more the haitian type than the apocalyptic type) and the action escalates from there through zombie cows, ghouls, graveyard guardians, and a slight encounter with the Elder Gods through the aegis of a 17 year old which and her trusty (and lusty) assistant.

Yes, the teenage practitioner of magic plans to open the gate and allow the great old one through.  And of course Mel's Diner has a secret with regard to the gate.

The action is fast, mildly amusing, and engaging.  The story twists and turns along byways that most Lovecraftians know by heart and though there is never any doubt about the outcome, there are moments in the book during which you wonder how such an outcome will be achieved.

The one thing that nonplussed me about the book was a banner on the cover that indicated that the ALA voted this a "Best Book for Young Adults"  and granted it an "Alex Award."  I would strongly caution anyone thinking about handing the book to a young adult, particularly a young adult on the lower end of that spectrum.  There is very adult subject matter scattered throughout the book, and while not extremely explicit, there are moments that I would rather not have a teenager in my charge reading without discussion and guidance.  (Guess it kind of tells you something about the ALA that they are no longer able to distinguish subject matter truly appropriate for young people--it's one thing to have a shrouded, discrete contact in the book, another when it is as casually peppered through as it is in this tale.)  Of course, none of this really reflects on the book itself, but rather on the suspect judgment of those who hand out awards.  As I noted, I advise caution.

However, for adult readers looking for a light supernatural romp with a few laughs and a unique perspective, you could do worse than Gil's All Fright Diner.

In the category of freaky, fun, light, supernatural beach read--Gil's gets two thumbs up.  ****

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