Author: A. Lee Martinez
Genre: Science Fiction, Comedy, Weirdness
Publication Date: October 2010
Hardcover: 251 pages
Diana’s life was in a rut – she hated her job, she was perpetually single, and she needed a place to live. But then the perfect apartment came along. It seemed too good to be true – because it was.
As it turns out, the apartment was already inhabited – by monsters. Vom the Hungering was the first to greet Diana and to warn her that his sole purpose in life was to eat everything in his path. This poses a problem for Diana since she’s in his path…and is forbidden from ever leaving the apartment.
It turns out though that there are older and more ancient monstrous entities afoot – ones who want to devour the moon and destroy the world as we know it. Can Diana, Vom, and the other horrors stop this from happening? Maybe if they can get Vom to stop eating everything…and everyone.
Stand alone or series: Standalone novel
How did I get this book: Review Copy from the Publisher
Why did I read this book: I recently hit a reading rut, in which I picked up three or four books and just couldn’t will myself to read past the first 50 pages (give or take). Then, this quirky novel made its way to me in the mail and was just what I needed to bust out of my reader’s malaise. Science Fiction Weirdness, starring hungry interdimensional monsters? Sign me up, please.
Diana hasn’t exactly been living the good life for the past few years. She’s fairly intelligent, decently attractive, amiable enough, and has just enough work ethic and responsibility to get by at her admittedly dead end job (being in department store coat sales is just about as glamorous as it sounds). She’s also out of an apartment – so when she comes across a nice, newly vacated spot with affordable rent (and paid utilities), she jumps on the opportunity. Of course, when a thing sounds too good to be true, it often is – and Diana discovers this the hard way. Her new apartment is actually the home/prison of Vom the Hungering (who will eventually devour everything in his path), and Diana unknowingly has just become his new warden.
Diana is fit into a tough predicament: thanks to some interdimensional snazziness, she will never want for anything to eat or drink in her new apartment, and she is, basically, immortal. Problem is, she can’t ever leave the apartment, unless she decides to open the closet door (that is, the portal to Vom’s cell), thereby releasing him and ending her own life. Everyone opens the door eventually…it’s just a matter of time before Diana’s goose is cooked.
Chasing the Moon is the first novel that I’ve had the pleasure of reading from A. Lee Martinez, and I daresay I’ll be back for more because this book is good old fashioned Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett-esque fun. This is, in short, an absurd book (and this is the reason I’m using for this somewhat scattered review). There’s the situational comedy that Diana begins to find herself in at the onset of the book, the charmingly bizarre space-time analogies (in which the multiverse is explained as a highrise building), the eaters of dreams (to keep us sane, of course), the forlorn Fenrir, the arguments between a monster that can’t help but eat everything in his path and another who can’t help but spawn every few minutes. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the novel, though, is how humanized all of Mr. Martinez’s characters are – monster, cloak salesgirl, and god-creature alike.
I loved the impossible insertion of different dimensions overlaid on our own Universe, as seen through Diana’s newly broadened perceptions. I loved the relationship between Diana and her monstrous charges. I loved Diana herself, with her charm and ability to adapt to the insane things thrown in her path – while keeping her own sanity in check (mostly), even when other mere mortals around her fall apart.
Of course, a large part of the draw to the novel is Mr. Martinez’s writing style, which is surprisingly restrained. With a plot that revels in the absurd and strange, it seems like it would be easy for the writing to be similarly hyperbolic – but it’s not. Martinez’s prose is sparse and direct, lending a stability to what otherwise could have been a truly over-the-top novel. Also on the plus side, the story progresses in a logical, linear fashion, and doesn’t go on for hundreds of pages (which would quickly become tiresome). Like any good comic, Mr. Martinez knows when to embellish and, more importantly, when to stop.
Honestly…it’s hard to really talk about this book because the joy of Chasing the Moon lies in the discovery of all the strange, quirky things that befall our reluctant heroine. To borrow from one master of the weird to apply to A. Lee Martinez, Chasing the Moon is, simply, ineffable.
Notable Quotes/Parts: You can read an excerpt online using Hachette’s Open Book platform HERE.
Rating: 7 – Very Good
Reading Next: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
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