Devil's Road (Book Review)
by Gary Gibson
4 / 5 Stars - Novella, Science Fiction Adventure
I received this book from BookSirens in exchange for a fair review!
Dutch is broken out of prison by an eccentric billionaire and given an offer she can't refuse: compete in the Devil's Road car race. She's can't refuse because a) she would be sent back to jail and b) she wants to race. She's been in the race before but has never won. It's not a typical car rally: the racecourse circumnavigates the post-apocalyptic ruins of Teijouan that is inhabited by monstrous Kaiju that prowl the island’s devastated cities. She also has to contend with the other racers and her shifty navigator.
Let me preface by saying that I love cars. Not as much as my husband, who can tell you every car in every movie ever (in fact, when I mentioned to him about the Falcon in Devil’s Road, he said without pause, “Mad Max’s car”), but I do love a good car chase movie, preferably with a classic coupe involved. And Death Race 2000. And Mad Max itself, of course.
I also have an unabashed love of Pacific Rim and previous enjoyment in my university days of Neon Genesis Evangelion. So yeah, I’m a “kaiju” fan too.
I also love tough female leads, so … was this book written for me?
Honestly, the most disappointing thing about this novel is that it’s a novella. Had it tacked on an extra 50 (preferably 100) pages to give Dutch a proper backstory, beef up the tension with Nat, and make the race far longer, it would have been amazing.
Instead, we get a really fun and exciting story, but one that feels like we’re missing some serious character development opportunities. Don’t get me wrong - I liked Dutch. I loved her. I was also intrigued by the other racers (and Nat), but we don’t get enough of anyone. It’s really disappointing.
The action scenes were also super fun, but the entire race felt very rushed. When I hit the 80% mark I was like: wait, it’s going to wrap up in like ten minutes?
Yet, despite this rather major problem, it’s SUCH a fun novel. There is a lack of exposition at the start that allows you to tease out the state of the world from the small hints that are dropped. We’re also not even introduced to the kaiju aspect until later, which was fun.
Despite feeling like you’ve emerged from a whirlwind when you’re done, this book is a blast to read and I really enjoyed it.