Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dead End Follies Book Club - HELL & GONE


HELL & GONE is the second book of The Accident People trilogy, but it's so different from the first, it's barely a pertinent perequisite to have read the first. Swierczynski does a good job at explaining what happened in FUN & GAMES anyway. In this novel, the scruffy, likable and impossible to kill Charlie Hardie is caught in a secret underground prison where...he's the warden! A whole lot of nuttiness ensues. Imagine your most over-the-top conspiracy theory buddy's speech. Yeah that, but in a novel.

I know what you're thinking. Dan Brown's Free Masons and Illuminati delirium is the same thing. Well, no. While Brown's material has the potential to be as wacky and fun, it isn't because DB takes himself so seriously, he gets a concussion just to look at his old photo albums. Swierczynski's trilogy has the right tone to convey such a crazy, paranoid material. It's pulp fiction in its purest form and it's a triumph for the genre that a big print like Mulholland Books have decided to take a chance on it. I wouldn't be surprised to see The Accident People trilogy being optioned and turned into a movie. Done right, it could be extremely successful.

THREE REASONS TO READ: HELL & GONE

1) Charlie Hardie. He's a protagonist so rational and so damaged, he keeps the pace with the ongoing crazyness, but not without questioning it all the time. His wits are little nuggets of gold, peppered through the novels.

2) The paranoid atmosphere. The prisoners as well as the staff are kept in the dark, regarding where they are or why they are there and it's driving them completely nuts. It's like having conspiracy theorists inside a conspiracy theory story. 

3) It's about the closest literary thing to an action movie. Really. By that, I don't mean SAFE HOUSE action, I mean Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, action.

THREE TOPICS ABOUT: HELL & GONE

1) Charlie Hardie is physically incapacitated throughout the novel. In perspective, do you think that it was a handicap or a plus for him?

2) HELL & GONE is a novel about the disparities between the individual and the system. Do you think someone can be imprisoned without a trial or even disobeying the law, if it's for the greater good?

3)  Would you still consider yourself free, if you learned that reality as you know it, is organized by a group of people you didn't know the existence of?

8 comments:

  1. If it's HALF as good as Fun & Games, I'm there.

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  2. It's about as good, but it's very different. Plus, there are some Easter eggs you will totally get.

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  3. "Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime" literary action? SOLD.

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  4. Topics 2 and 3 are easy for me, so I'll do them first:

    2) No, not ever. Not in any society that tries to be free and fair. Not in any country that calls itself a democracy. No exceptions.

    As we all know, that isn't actually the reality. But it should be.

    3) I'm pretty sure that is actually the case. Look at events that shape people's lives, and then consider how much control people actually have over those events.

    1) This is interesting. It appears that his injuries (and I do think the novel is stronger for considering the physical toll of what he went through in Fun & Games) hold him back considerably.

    But at the same time it forces him to reconsider what he is capable of, and how he can realistically achieve his goals. He is in a situation where the all-action brute force approach of the first book wouldn't get him anywhere.

    Lots of respect for Mr Swierczynski for not taking the easy route. This book could've been a carbon copy of the first, but instead he delves much deeper into his protagonists psyche, with both the literal prison, and the prison of his mangled body.

    And yes, in some respects it was a plus. But mostly it made for a much more original and interesting sequel.

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  5. Interesting. Do you mean you find the sequel more original than FUN & GAMES or more original than sequels in general? I thought FUN & GAMES was crazy too.

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    1. I suppose I mean a bit of both. The first one reads like a homage to 80s action movies - I love it but it's hardly original: Hard man just won't lay down and die, no matter how the odds are stacked against him!

      So the second is a more original plotline and style, but also more original than most sequels. He could have gone from Die Hard to Die Harder. Well that's fine too, and that's what most authors end up doing - why mess with a winning formula? - but kudos to Swiercynski for doing something different with his protagonist, putting him in a completely different environment and seeing what happens.

      And the third book looks REALLY crazy!

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  6. Having finished Fun&Games just a few days ago - loved it by the way - I'm now waiting just a little before treating myself to number 2 of the series.
    I'm hooked now to know what happens next, especially since you're telling me that it's not just another re-run of successful episode 1.

    As for your questions, I'll just humbly chime in to number 3, and I'll answer that with another question: Why? Do you consider yourself free knowing that reality as you know it, is organized by a group of people whose existence you perfectly well know? ;-)

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  7. I do not, good sir. Freedom has become a manufactured product. You're free to do whatever you want, but whatever is pushed on you is steering you towards being economically viable at your own expense.

    It's a word that lost its meaning.

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