An action-packed, epic-in-scope adventure…
Rife’s latest in The Cool Things series is full of mayhem, murder, monsters, and love. The toxic creature infested lower levels of the Waydowns, an ancient, buried starship, is off-limit for everyone except for the malevolent Dr. Lilith Sally Gaust who uses the place as a dumping ground for all her splicing and breeding failures, including the dead and the living. But Proby is tired of living in the same place. Trying to find a way out, he stumbles across the enigmatic Shadow in the old, haunted Roaton house. Meanwhile, Jayderay becomes entrapped in the Roaton house. RL must team up with Frankie and find a way to free the love of his life. The ride is somewhat episodic: the entire narrative is made up of multiple haphazard situations, but still an entertaining roller-coaster ride of vicious battles, unexpected chases, last minute life-and-death situations, and narrow escapes, constantly reminding readers that oblivious humans are just the small fry in this vast universe of mutated predators. The large cast of colorful characters is well-developed, particularly the teen hero Proby, who manages to hit a larger-than-life note. Darren and his crew are typical smart, tough guys. The deliriously assorted ensemble of mutated creatures is appropriately creepy and proves fascinating in its own right. Jayderay’s undying love for seemingly undeserving RL and Frankie’s loyalty make them very humane. Princess and George are as cute as they come. Dr. Lillith Gaust is thoroughly despicable antagonist: readers will find it painful to watch the mutated creatures suffer so much cruelty at her hands. However, Rife also rounds out his narrative with heartwarmingly tender details, particularly Proby and Shadow’s haunting love story. Rife skillfully handles his large cast of characters and is effortless when it comes to integrating a massive back story into the main plot. The brilliance of the novel, though, is in the way he develops the main storyline with intimate character stories, like those of Proby, Shadow, RL, Jayderay, and Frankie. The prose is clunky but it sends readers on fairly breathless leaps from one hopelessly hellish world to another nonetheless. There is a lot of intriguing otherworldly content in these pages, and readers will have a hard time keeping tabs of various story elements. But none of that should stop them turning the pages nonstop. Ripe for big screen adaptation or a web series.
LAB SPILL: A Dark Comedy. Maybe.
(THE COOL THING SERIES)
DEEP PORTAL PUBLISHING
Pub date July 12, 2022
Price $18.95 (USD) Paperback, $24.95 Hardcover, $4.74 Kindle edition