Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Review-Zits: Shredded

No, the above image is not an artist's rendition of me. Stop asking!

Last May, I wrote a review of the book Zits: Chillax by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, based off the popular comic strip of the same name. If you're not going to go and read that review, let me sum it up for you: I really liked it. In fact, Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman even liked my review because they featured it on their website. Not gonna lie, that was really cool.

So you can imagine my shock when I checked reviews on Amazon and found that some people actually didn't share my opinion. Most complaints were the fact that this wasn't a collection of the daily and Sunday strips.
Well if that's your major complaint then your own ignorance is to blame for your dissatisfaction. That's why I check for something called a "Product Description" so I know what I'm buying. See, Scott and Borgman could have put about 200 blank pages in it and called it a "Make Your Own Zits Story" book and you'd have only yourself to blame.
Also, didn't the shape of the book give anything away-it's rectangular like most novels are. 

And there were also complaints that the stories in the novel had been done before. Wait, didn't these people read my review!? Yes, the stories have been told before in the daily strips however in a novel format they're able to weave them together so that it all feels connected.
Well, good news, because the new book titled Shredded is 100% brand new material. You read that correctly, BRAND NEW MATERIAL!!!

This time Jeremy and friends Hector and Pierce are making an extreme road trip to return a Pilates machine to his grandmother while unbeknownst to his parents-who are out of town at some boring dental awards dinner for Jeremy's dad-they also plan to record their first album at Dog Tired Records to help in their part in a fundraiser for the Freckled Children's Home (Not making that name up either).

Immediately after buying this book earlier today, I plopped myself down on the nearest chair in Chinook Mall and began reading.
I don't think I'm going to read a funnier book this year and I plan on reading this book more than once. This was fun, smart, sublimely written, doesn't feel like it's talking down to it's audience and don't come with some sort of heavy-handed message/moral/requiem-on-the-nature-of-evil. This is what it is, three dudes on a wild drive trying to reach their goals and all the stuff that happens along the way. 

The drawings by Jim Borgman are brilliant and help take the story to a new level to the point where it's almost like you're watching a sitcom with these three. The drawings on pages 158-159 is something that would make Rube Goldberg weep with envy...in fact I think most of the pictures in here would make any artist or aspiring artist weep with envy; he knows how to add character to these characters.

But for my money-since I can't draw-the best part is the narration by Jeremy. Once again, his prose makes everyday life in...whatever state he lives in seem more absurd and hilarious than it would be in the real world. And I have no problem that I am sometimes green with envy with how good the prose is.
More importantly, it feels real. Hector says a great line at the end of Chapter 9 which I've said with friends in the best and worst of times, co-workers in times of sheer immorality and family at Christmas dinner.

If there is a strength in the story itself (Which is already, in my opinion, is not weak in any way), it's the friendship between Jeremy, Hector and Pierce. There was to be a fourth member of this group but he has sit this out due to french fry allergies (No, I'm not making that up either-read the book!). They don't have ulterior motives, they're flawed but in the end, they all stick together.

These three kind of remind me of Kirk, Spock and McCoy from the original Star Trek. See, when it went to commercial, my dad used to explain how Kirk, Spock and McCoy represent the Id, Ego and Superego of the human psyche. Because that's what I, at eight years of age, wanted to hear about when not watching retro science-fiction: psychology. 

However it seems I may have retained more than I intended (Good work, Professor Dad).
In Jeremy, you have James T. Kirk, the Super-Ego, the natural leader (He is on the cover of the book) and the glue that holds this group together no matter how bad things can get sometimes.

In Hector, he's obviously Spock, the Ego. He looks at things at rationally and doesn't let emotion get in the way of making judgement.
Unless food is involved in which case...come on, I'm sure Spock would go a little crazy if he was starving.

And is it any shock to you that Pierce is McCoy or the Id? The dude seems to have no concept of danger or mortality: all instinct, no before-or-after thought and full of emotion. Plus I could totally see him telling Jeremy, "I'm a drummer not a weathervane!"
Oh and I'm sure the hamster he brings along for the ride (Lucifer) could easily fill the roll of a Tribble. 

Now I'm having a hard time not picturing these characters in Starfleet uniforms and laughing while doing so.

I really liked the first book and I think it's fair to say that I liked Shredded even more. If I do have one complaint...it's that I'm not sure if there will be another book after this. I emailed Jerry Scott back in 2012 when I first heard about the novels and he told me that there were going be two.
I, for one, hope that there are more novels in the works because I get a real kick out of them, they genuinely make me laugh and best of all, they inspire me to write better. 

However if this is the second and last Zits novel, then it's a great novel to end this brief series on. If you're a teen, adult, kid, octogenarian, or know someone who likes to read and laugh, then pick this book up because you're bound to enjoy it. 

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