Skullcrack City by author Jeremy Robert Johnson
Fans of absurdist action thrillers in the same vein as John Dies at the End will certainly enjoy Skullcrack City. It’s a drug fueled high octane car chase through a network of conspiracy theories and missing brains.
The protagonist Doyle is a banker who hates banking and banks but has been stuck in his position for 13 years. His boredom and desperation lead him to going back on a drug called Hex in order to have enough energy to plan a takedown of this evil corporation from the inside. We never really learn about Doyle’s previous experience in this drug underworld except that he appears to maintain some connections that will drag him further under later on.
Hex is like meth on meth. It gives the user endless energy and speeds up thought processes enough to feel like they could unravel the mysteries of the universe in just under an hour. It also gives the user an insatiable sex drive. Not like a hormonal teenager sex drive. It’s more of a masturbate until your dick becomes more scar tissue than manhood kind of sex drive.
So Doyle is Hexed out of his mind and genitals connecting the dots between his bank, an evil doctor, a pop star, and some kind of monster that appears to be eating brains out of the skulls of its victims. Whether or not any of this is true or the delusions of an addict isn’t seen until the latter half of the book. The reader gets to choose to play along or indulge in doubt. I chose to play along because I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy theory, especially when it gets into inter-dimensional cult territory.
After several revelations Doyle ends up partnering with another former Hex addict named Dara. The two of them are motivated to unravel the mystery and save the world together. Doyle falls in love with her at first sight but her first sight of him is after weeks of a Hex bender so it may take her a while longer. Hex isn’t known to give users better hygiene skills.
Skullcrack City has twists and turns that keep the pages flipping. It’s a fun and entertaining thriller even if it lacks some of the personal depth of Johnson’s Entropy in Bloom. There is however, a character in Skullcrack City that features in his own short story in that collection. I was excited to see the League of Zeros mention and recognize the crossover.
Johnson blends elements of horror, science fiction, action, and even romance to deliver this story of man vs evil. I recommend it and Johnson to anyone looking to break a reading rut. Whatever your opinions are this one is definitely not boring.
4/5 skulls 💀💀💀💀
For another drug altered sci fi action adventure check out Opposable.
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