I’ve been listening to a lot of Die Antwoord lately because as a late-30s, married Hispanic male who only drives Japanese imports, I’m obviously their target demographic. Like every single one of my friends, I hadn’t heard of Die Antwoord until I saw them in Chappie. Then I checked out their music and got seriously hooked. Now I can’t stop watching their videos and blasting Doos Dronk every time I get the weepies. Wait, no, that doesn’t sound right. It was while listening to Doos Dronk for the 117 thousandth time that I boarded a train of thought that went straight to HateMyself-ville. I’ll explain.
Honest, well-conceived science fiction. First, I’d like to say that I was worried about Veneer because it’s a self-published title. Perhaps I’m being a bit crass, but I find that most self-published books I’ve attempted to read are poorly written, or have awful (non-existent?) plots, or thin plastic characters. Quite often it’s all of these. Veneer, however, is quite a good book. It could have used a bit of an editor’s red ink but otherwise I found it to be highly entertaining and unpredictable. There were times when I got through a portion of a chapter and thought “Why the heck did that happen? Is the author just filling pages?” but then was surprised to find a real reason, one that relates to the plot or character development. My low expectations were often confounded this way. If I were forced to give an idea of the flavor of this book, I’d say there’s a little of both The Giver and Brave New World, with a tiny splash of The Matrix. The ending was a bit confusing, though that did not diminish my level of post-climax satisfaction (yikes, did I just write that?) If you’re on the fence about this book, give the author a chance. Being self-published is not easy. If you find that you don’t like the book after reading this review, feel free to berate me.
Changed my views on writing good characters. I loved every single thing about this book. It was seamless, well-orchestrated, well-researched, the lingo was slick (unlike a lot of harder science fiction), the characters, the cities. AHh! It was just so very well put together like an intricate puzzle and worked out perfectly in the end. The most powerful part, for me, is how it’s changed my views on how to write a good character. perhaps it’s because I was just reading a poor example this evening, but I realized that what a character looks like is inconsequential MOST of the time, and yet so many writers drag on and on about it. Veneer changed that for me because the *veneer* is the important part. I can’t say much without giving away spoilers, but hopefully you’ll experience that shift as well. Highly recommended. And one aside, I didn’t notice if this was intended as a young adult novel, but the main characters are about 17 years old. There is crude language, violence, and sex. Just a heads up if that’s not your thing, or you don’t want *your* young adults reading that.