By: Ken Floro III
Jury still out pending completion of series.
Little Green Men From Beyond the Amazon (heretofore LGM) is written in the first person narrative of the main character Max, a southside park ranger whose job it is to hunt down boogey men, or little green men, or dog-men depending on who’s talking about them. Boogey men are some sort of half-dog half-primate hybrids with moderate intelligence and an appetite for human flesh. The southside is an area of St. Louis, Missouri that is saturated with boogey men. Max and his cohorts spend every night out patrolling the southside and shooting little green men to death. When people, or rather, corpses, are involved, the rangers’ job is to hide the evidence of boogey men. Civilians are not supposed to know about them.
Everything is going pretty hunky-dory, Max supposes, until one day when along comes Dr. Victoria Tersen, a biologist with an attitude that blows hot and cold. Oh, and apparently a nice body. Dr. Tersen demands that the rangers capture one of the boogey men alive so that her crew up in Montana can observe their behavior and find out how to kill them. They find out some useless information and then the Committee cuts their budget. From here, which is about a quarter of the way into the book according to my Kindle, to the 90% mark, it’s all politics and jockeying for position. The reader should keep in mind that this is the first book in a series. I’m not sure how many books there are supposed to be in the Southside Ranger series, but I’m assuming this one did all the necessary discussing and figuring things out. The book ends with a cliffhanger.
LGM is not the type of book I usually read. I figured this out pretty much right away. It’s an adrenaline-fueled hypermasculine creature feature with lots of thumb-jabbing and grabbings by the scruff of the neck. Aside from Dr. Tersen, there is a woman named Terry who is a nurse that shows up for two sentences. Everyone else is male. Everyone. I won’t lie; this made my inner lesbian sad. However, and yes it’s tragic, not everyone is a lesbian. Some people are men. Some people, I’m even told, really enjoy stuff like this regardless of their genders and have made Vin Diesel a bajillionaire. Before Vin Diesel, there was Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, and Chuck friggin Norris. Would the same people who have made Vin Diesel filthy stinking rich like this book, you ask? I don’t know! I’m not qualified to determine whether this fulfills all the hypermasculine man-dreams of action junkies. I can only assume it does due to all of the thumb-jabbing. So, we’ll go ahead and put a check in that box.
That being said, I do read and write, and I have identified at least FOUR things about the book that I can review with confidence.
Thing one: the narrator.
Max is an incredibly well written narrator. His voice is consistent, charismatic, and unique. Even during the times where I groaned a little bit because the plot was starting to remind me of a union meeting (which I attend monthly in real life – I’m not just guessing) my interest was never completely lost because I enjoyed reading it from Max’s perspective. I liked the way he saw things and how casually he could describe the world and himself and the people around him as though he couldn’t take any of it all that seriously. I particularly enjoyed one bit toward the end where Max has taken over his former boss’s office and the only thing in the whole room for sitting is an uncomfortable stool. He fidgets around in the thing and tries to act casual, but he can’t get comfortable. Later on, when everything overwhelms him, he leans over with his head in his hands and realizes the stool is suddenly comfortable. That kind of deep introspection from a very not introspective character without ever breaking character was a stroke of genius. I actually raised my eyebrows.
Thing two: the organization
It’s difficult to tell whether this works in the context of however many books there are going to be. I checked Floro’s website and couldn’t find anything about how many books there are supposed to be, so I don’t know whether I’m a tenth of the way through the story or halfway through the story. The book doesn’t stand very well on its own. It doesn’t have its own complete plot with a traditional arc. There is no conflict resolution. That being said, if there are three or four books planned, there’s a lot of potential for this to turn out very well. The action never comes to a dead stop. The chain of promises is never broken. I didn’t feel like I could have put the book down on page fifty and not needed to know any more. The scenes flowed very well.
Thing three: the “bitch”
Dr. Tersen. Oh, boy, where do I start with Dr. Tersen? Well, she’s smart and tough. She gets her way a lot. She doesn’t take a lot of shit from Max. She is also referred to as a “bitch” in literally all of her scenes. From a harm-reduction standpoint, I suppose it could have been worse. She could have spent every scene either having sex with Max or being discussed in the context of sex. She could have walked into a room full of rangers and tried to give a presentation only to be ogled and whistled at. Oh, wait, that all happened.
This stuff could all have been taken out and replaced with a big fat subtitle on the book cover that read: NO GIRLS ALLOWED. I don’t even know what to say about it. Is Floro a misogynist? It’s hard to tell. It might just be that Max is a misogynist. It might even just be that Max is an idiot. It might be that Floro conceived of Max’s attitudes toward women in an attempt to demonstrate that Max is a flawed character. I want to believe this, it’s just hard to do when Dr. Tersen is the only female character in the entire book. I’m hoping the sequels aren’t quite so hostile to female audiences.
Thing four: the cliffhanger
We finally get some fight scenes with the boogey men, things with Dr. Tersen are getting interesting and yes, in spite of myself, I even want to know what the Committee’s deal is. I will be reading the next book when it comes out. Or soon, if it already has. I can’t tell from Floro’s website.
I wasn’t sure how to rate this book, honestly. I want to see how things pan out and where things go with all the characters. I want to know if the action is good and whether the Committee is ever developed as a full-fledged character. I want to know if there will ever be some awesome action woman who shows up and starts doing flips and leveling boogey men territory.
In the meantime, I recommend this to anyone who chooses movies for their explosions.