Review: CHASING THE SUN by Robin Baker

Chasing The Sun - Baker, Robin19900fWhen I first heard about the phenomenon of NA (New Adult) fiction I thought it was a joke…a satirical take on the whole YA explosion. But it’s a thing. Apparently. One I thought pretty bloody unnecessary until I read CHASING THE SUN. Now I suspect today’s twenty-somethings really do need their own special category of reading material because this tale written by someone in that age group about people who are, at least ostensibly, in that age group whose lives consist of clubbing, killing and surviving perpetual ennui is so entirely foreign to me that it may as well be in another language.

It is narrated, with stultifyingly dull and clichéd dialogue peppered with words like ‘dude’ and ‘cool’ and ‘baby’, by a chap known as Honda. Honda Civic. He provides Feng Shui consultations for the rich and gormless but deliberately tells them to do exactly the things that will ensure their household energies will never be harmonious. But Honda’s real focus is on finding people to kill. He goes clubbing with his friends Grace, Dante, Johnnie and the other one whose name I forget where they take drugs, pick up people and kill them.

The twist? They’re all vampires (though that actual word is not, I think, ever used).

Which, I assume, explains why the dead have no names or personalities. They are ‘the blonde’ and ‘the footballer’ or ‘the backpackers’ and their lives, and deaths, mean as much to Honda and his pals as the squashing of an ant does to normal humans. Here’s an example of the kind of thing I’m talking about. Johnnie (Walker…get it?) comes up to Honda in a club one night and as they high five each other says

“What’s black and blue and hates sex?…The Asian kid I’ve got tied up in the back of my car…”

Trust me, your reaction to that joke (?) is gonna be a pretty good indicator of your reaction to the whole book.

The other thing that will have an influence on your reaction to the book is the depth of your personal knowledge of vampire lore. Mine is very shallow and so quite a few things that happened here made no sense at all to me. I was not however interested enough to google their meaning. I don’t really mean to sound dismissive and I truly don’t believe that characters in fiction have to be likeable to be readable or interesting. But surely they have to show at least a flicker of engagement with their world if the reader is supposed to become ensnared by it for long enough to get to the end of the tale? The people populating this world were bored with it from page one and I just couldn’t see why I should be more interested in it than they were. Perhaps I was meant to find drama in the fact that the hunters became the hunted but I really couldn’t because…well…vampires aren’t real and I know that.

After what seemed like an extremely long time to me but was probably only 50 or so pages of the clubbing, killing and sitting around being bored shtick Honda is hired to undertake the Feng Shui of a new club called Immortality being built by someone with an even more mysterious air than the gang of five. Independently of that a vampire, not one of this particular gang but someone they know, is killed. All of this leads Honda to a change in his life, one that can basically be boiled down to him learning, after several hundred years or whatever, that time flies. Who knew?

And so we come to the point of this review which is that I have added another item to the list. The list of things my 13 year-old self promised she would never do. Work in an office. Get into the left lane 5 kilometres before needing to actually turn left and despite the presence of a convoy of slow-moving vehicles. Vote for a conservative candidate. And, now, complain about young people. I assume to them this book is funny. Or ironic. Or wish fulfilment. Or some combination thereof but to me (for the record I’m 45) it’s just…nothingness. Despite being sold as a comic thriller it read more like mild and rather dull horror. But if you’re twenty something and you’ve read it could you explain it to me?

Publisher Pantera Press [2012]
ISBN/ASIN 9781921997068
Length 252 pages
Format paperback

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