Score: 88/100 (8.8 out of 100)
Meth Gator is another fun, quirky, and off-the-walls kaiju story by Ethan Richards!
No, this isn't fine, first-class literature, but we have to give it to Richards. He's like a really good B-movie director. He knows how to make a premise so ridiculous and absurd actually engaging and entertaining.
This book is arguably the most bonkers and random of all the Richards books we've read so far, and that's saying a lot. It goes from being a giant monster/kaiju story to becoming a kind of gangster/crime thriller with some secret society intrigue going on. There's something really silly, goofy, nonsensical, and comical about all of it, for better or for worse.
So, what is this book about? Well, that's a loaded question.
This book follows in the footsteps of Caw Lake, Richards's previous monster novel, which we actually really loved. We find ourselves again in Oklahoma as a series of mysterious deaths have occurred near a wildlife management area in McCurtain County. These deaths are reported to have been caused by a giant reptilian creature resembling a crocodile, alligator, or a prehistoric dinosaur creature called a Dimetrodon.
If you read Caw Lake, you'd know that Replicants had taken the form of prehistoric creatures like dinosaurs and large sea predators.
Well, this book deals with the aftermath as Brannigan Novak, the hero of the last book, finds himself struggling with a werewolf or Jekyll and Hyde-like situation in which he periodically turns into the feared gator-like creature. This is especially problematic because it puts his wife, Sheila, at risk.
Now, Sheila was simultaneously one of our favorite characters while also being one of the most ridiculous and annoying characters in the book. Sheila seems to be the embodiment of over-the-top feminism, almost a caricature of it. She is a skilled MMA/bare-knuckle fighter akin to someone like Tifa from Final Fantasy VII. We are constantly reminded of how good a fighter she is. It is so excessive that it's almost as if the author is in on the joke. She even starts quoting Ken Shamrock regarding how bare-knuckle fighting is safer than gloved fighting. We just kept imagining this over-the-top female fighter like Rhonda Rousey or Holly Holmes or something.
There's also a side-romance between Tommy and Maddalena which kinda seems like an unnecessary side-plot that doesn't seem to lead to anything, which is actually kinda funny. They almost serve as one of those random couples in a B-horror movie that are only there so everyone can have some screen time and make their $125 (minus tax + free snacks).
There's a hokiness and campiness to Ethan Richards's books that's only rivaled by the works of authors like Glenn Stevens.
Anyway, all the cool weapons from Caw Lake and Dark Elf/Dark Lord of Oklahoma are back. This includes the AA-12s, M16s, AK-47s, and handguns make a reappearance. This book puts special emphasis on the sub-machine guns this time around, namely the Uzis. Still, you just aren't going to top the awesomeness of the AA-12s.
While the main personal crisis in this novel surrounds Brannigan and Sheila, the major over-arching conflict involves a secret society of neo-fascists who control the world from behind the scenes and are responsible for these monsters.
We really wish the author would work a little bit on formatting these books. The double-spacing between paragraphs somewhat breaks the flow of the reading. There are also times when paragraphs lack indentations for no apparent reason. Also, it's literally impossible to take this plot seriously. Even when characters are at risk of being horribly mauled by monsters, it's more ridiculous and comedic than horrifying or terrible.
This is really a popcorn flick in book form.
Check it out on Amazon!