Undermeat, the debut novel by Scott Crowder, is about a prostitute and a Junkie mixing it up in a hidden underworld that’s like a dark parallel of our own. It is definitely an adult read with lots of sex and is classified in the Genre, “Weird Fiction.” I found out in the intro it’s inspired by an album titled “Sweetly” by Atrax Morgue.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
The synopsis sounded interesting, the title was intriguing, if a little indecipherable, and I was very curious as to what ‘Weird Fiction’ meant. It has good cover art, too.
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED:
I’m actually about 30 pages from the end and I intend to finish. There’s a lot of good stuff going on here, especially in the beginning, and I’ve become invested in the characters. Crowder starts great with a hapless anti-hero known to us as “the junkie” (great name, btw) and throws him into a race against two ticking clocks:
a) his ex-girlfriend, the prostitute wants to find someone to kill her pimp, is willing to sell her soul to do it, and he needs to stop her before she goes that far (because he still loves her–d’aww!)
and b) in order to save her and stop the whole soul-sales enterprise, the junkie has already sold his own soul and has to make sure he rescues the princess before his bill comes due.
Add to this the fact that he’s still fighting/embracing a drug problem and that he’s almost comically bad at rescuing people and we have the makings of some great drama. The junkie really becomes the heart of this story, but our heroine (yuk, yuk) is somewhat more flat. She’s a prostitute who’s completely under her pimp’s thumb and everything has gone wrong in her life. I have to say I do like how he presents her lifestyle and the frank, explicit, but unromantic portrayal of sex in the novel.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
This book has a great setup and I intend to finish it because it does a good job of making me care about the main characters. There are some things that need major attention, though. Firstly, it becomes apparent the longer you read that the author is not yet finished editing this work. Typos, spellcheck errors, etc. The beginning is really tight, but more errors slip through the cracks the longer you read. It’s still legible, however, but it is a little fourth wall breaking. Second, and on that note, more polish comes off a little farther in—certain sections of imagery are not given quite the level of detail I feel are their due, certain are given more detail than needed, and some transitions are VERY abrupt. My final criticism is with the plot—it jumps around at times and seems to forget what it’s really after. The biggest offense on this front is the pimp, who is the inciting incident. But after the first confrontation with him—which happens within the first 50 or so pages—we are left in the dark as to whether he’s dead while the main characters try and solve another problem. The plot is competent—chains of cause and effect are there (if sometimes loosely)—but it lacks refinement.
What Crowder does right he does very well. His compelling main character and hook-heavy opening meant I was able to look past this book’s flaws and keep reading. But don’t take my word for it—download a free copy from smashwords and see for yourself! Then leave me a comment and tell me what you thought of Undermeat!