This review happens to be one of the few that I have up on Goodreads that has sparked any form of a conversation between me and other people on the site. This is an author that gives me the whole, "Am I the only one who sees this?/ It feels like I'm taking crazy pills" moment, as I can recall how back in high school I began reading this at the behest of a substitute teacher who assured me that this author was hilarious. Everywhere I look, people seem to equate this guy with Douglas Adams and he churns out books that people apparently gobble up and shit out five-star reviews about like nobody's business.
Well, I read the book, and when I was done, I gave the book to the teacher who, despite her bad advice on comedy literature, I am still fond of and then I got the immediate feeling that I had wasted whatever time I had spent actually reading this thing - it is a "meh" in almost every respect, not even bad enough to be inadvertently hilarious - and that I had stumbled upon an overblown sacred cow for people who have terrible senses of humor.
This author is Christopher Moore, and the book is A Dirty Job:
After having finished reading this, I found that not only would I have rather just readexcerpts out of a history or literature text book, but that after I had finished reading it I was pissed.
I was angry for being under the impression that funny things were supposed to happen during the course of this book, only to receive cheap sitcom-esque comedy in return for my tenacity for having bothered to finish the damn thing.
Are you expecting something smart, dark, and unexpectedly humorous? Then be prepared for prat falls, "humorous" misunderstandings, and cliff hanger after pointless cliff hanger, all of which cumulate into nothing ever occurring to change things.
The only reason I had the tenacity to actually finish this very obvious, rail gun shooter of a book is because I have to say, I've never read a book about Death as a child (and, hey, I am a sucker for Death as a character), or the sort of plot that ensues from this character - but really, when I think about it, that was all of the substance that this story had to it. Attached to this main plot like grotesque vestigial limbs are things like a failed romantic interest, flat, dull characters and a constant onslaught of sitcom comedy. It's too bad this book did not come equipped with a laugh track, because I think that if it had, then this book may have had more of the intended effect on the reader that the author wanted.
Damn, reading this book has given me the absolute worst opinion on who this author is as a person - an unfunny, awkward man who thinks that if he can pull something unusual out of his ass, then he gets a free pass on contributing anything of quality to whatever it is that he is creating.
I would recommend reading Good Omens, a book that feels like something quite similar to what this one was trying to pull off, but did not succeed in doing. Or, hey, try out The Sandman, if you want to try something with less intended comedy in it but with some amazing personifications of these different concepts - such as Death - and terribly engrossing stories.
Can you imagine what a GOOD author could accomplish with material similar to what Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett had when they wrote Good Omens and The Sandman, and had the chance to create something humorous and unique with it? Hell, I think I might take a chance and create something similar to this myself - but, you know, hopefully without the awful, awful quality.
I am therefore inclined to stay away from anything else he has written in the future, for the fact that this author had a concept that has obviously proven to work great for other authors and with such an "out there" idea in mind, he could have done almost ANYTHING with it, and chose instead to devote his time to mashing and disfiguring the idea into a slapstick piece of work with no soul inside of it to speak of.
And if there is anything worse than a complete, awful mess, it is something that shies within a heartbeat away of being godawful, and is therefore not even unintentionally hilarious. This book just barely works to teach an aspiring writer (such as myself) on what not to do in various situations while writing, and it therefore has the nutritional value of cardboard, on top of not being entertaining. Despite its promise on delivering a unique reading experience, making itself sound an awful lot like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Good Omens, or, for a more contemporary reference, John Dies at the End - but it's not all that unusual or unique at all, when you peel away the stranger aspects of the tacky plot and the demon dogs. All that you're left with is tired tropes and insincere characters who don't have any chemistry whatsoever, even on paper.
2.5/10 - So so tiresome and fulfilling, like a relationship with a co-worker that you have to deal with on a daily basis.