Monday, May 10, 2010

Repo Men ~ by Eric Garcia

Somewhere in the not-so-distant future, clothing stores no longer fill our shopping malls. No more Abercrombie; no more JC Penny's. Instead, we have synthetic organ dealers vying for our attention. But amidst the smiling crowds—the injured dying thinking, "there is some hope"—between the dancing "Harry the Heart" mascots, and neon, pulsating "A Lifetime Can Be Yours!" slogans, there is something sinister. Something dark.

Enter our main character: a nameless bio-repo man. Armed with ether, a taser, and a handful of scalpels, he reclaims the Credit Union's organs when their customers fall behind on their payments. The job is harsh, gory, and the general public regards him with a sort of morbid curiosity.

What attracted me to this book originally was the movie, Repo Men, recently come to theaters. I knew I wouldn't have time to go see the movie, so I elected instead to read the book. Frankly, I'm glad I did.

The prose is straight-forward. Told in the first-person, our nameless bio-repo man has a very strong personality. The flow of language and vocabulary is consistent; the imagery portrayed, vivid and tight. The characterization—at least of the main character—is steady and well developed.

The concept—of fake organs and power-hungry companies—is one that I think many people can fear. This is what I might call 'real' science-fiction. Light science-fiction. It's one of those concepts that might be frighteningly realistic, leaving people like you and me to hope it never comes to past. That being said, I wish that there had been more focus on the technology of the future society, rather than our brooding main character.

Repo Men as a story does drag a little bit. At times—and certainly upon finishing—I felt like I had finished a short story, rather than novel. It doesn't seem like there should be enough information to fill a book this size, and I wonder if this wouldn't have been better off as a novella. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the non-linear plot, and liked the book well enough to keep.

Repo Men is a dark book. It's full of things that we don't really want to think about; of concepts that leave us shuddering while we read. But it is also a realistic book. I could imagine myself as one of the future public, grimly fascinated by the work of our bio-repo man. A man who is world-weary, and aging under the burden of his past sins.

Eric Garcia has a very interesting book here, but I do wish it had been shorter—even tighter than it already is. Three and a half stars out of five.