Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Book Review: Bikini Planet -- David Garnett

Since Hitchhikers Guide just opened up in movie theaters, I thought I would run a review I did while on vacation some weeks back:
Bikini Planet -- David Garnett
In the quest for mindless entertainment, few titles serve as well as Bikini Planet. And mindless entertainment it is, as Garnett, in his first novel, slings the reader on a journey into the future with square Las Vegas rookie cop, Wayne Norton. He travels into the future via the well-worn but always sturdy plot device of being awaken from suspended animation. How he got placed into his cyrogenic sleep chamber is an interesting set-up story of Las Vegas mobsters double crossing one another with Norton caught in the middle of the crossfire. When he is awakened into the far, far-flung future the world is completely different and makes little sense to Norton. So, rather than explain what is going on, Garnett tells the story from Norton's very confused point of view. People, aliens and places enter his life among bizzare circumstances that are never satisfactorily explained. Luckily, the storyline of Norton joining GalitiCop and then shuttled off to the vacation paradise of Hideaway is told with catchy dialog exchanges and wit.
Similar in sytle, to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Bikini Planet is full of humor but lacks both the depth and naughtiness one might be hoping to get from the title. In fact, the "Bikini Planet" does not enter the story until well after three-quarters through. Other subtraction points include several contrived scenes conveinently placed to carry the story. One example, Norton's girlfriend, Kiru just happens to have the ability to open any door. Another subtraction point, is having characters in the story that don't really serve a point. B.P. has several of these. With a book this loopy, these flaws could be overlooked if the story were as amusing and deftly written as, say a good Simpsons episode. And again, like a Simpsons episode, if B.P. were more a novella that I read in one sitting by the pool, sipping down a beer, I would have been served a fine time. Unfortunately, B.P. is over-extended as a novel, absorbing about 3 days of my leisure time. For that kind of time I want to be moved, shaken and stirred, not stuck with a half-smirk afixed to my face like I've got some strange facial disorder. As the Strokes put it in one of their best songs "Take it or leave it."

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