by Carl King

Mutant Mall

It’s a little hard to tell if this odd story is for teenagers or just about them. Adam is angst-ridden and uncommunicative and lives in a world where his best friend Ted is a jukebox and his second best friend Dave is a rather dim sloth-like fellow with bad teeth. He loves his sucky job because it fills the daylight hours and leaves the dark ones for contemplation. He’s not said a word to his mom in years, and his hometown has been taken over by a J-pop monster called “Yum Yum LollyPOP!” As his hometown turns more and more fanatical about bubbly music, his situation becomes dire and he can’t really leave town since it’s in a sort of unexplained multidimensional warp. He breaks through in a desperate maneuver and discovers another world, more like T. S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland” than Mos Eisley. He can change his address but not his situation.

Part rumination on life, part mild science fiction, part revenge story, this tale captures Adam’s internal state of mind while always leaving you with the question “Why?” “Why” indeed. When the story ends, it feels less resolved than at the halfway point. The imagery is well framed, King’s writing style is post-post-modern in a Kurt Cobain wannabe style, and the short chapters make the digital pages flow by quickly. I genuinely like Adam and see myself in his shoes, and what I’d like to see is a better resolution of the situation. The front notes say this was a screenplay first. Perhaps visuals would help answer questions like “What became of Adam’s imaginary girlfriend? Can he find acceptance in the wasteland? Will the Meme Zombies eat him? Will there be a sequel?” This is only available as an eBook, but it’s reasonably priced and may help focus the sullen anger of young person in your life. I know it intrigued me.

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