Author: S Shane Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Series: Anki Legacies: Rob Rogers Hollow Earth Urban Myth Series
I received Advance Reader copies from my writing pal. I took the highly unusual decision to review both books simultaneously because, as far as I can tell, the one is a parallel universe telling of one part of the main story.
Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn is a fun, short romp of a very pulpy nature. To me, it seemed like an X-Files episode (one of those strange, humorous episodes, with a bit of cryptozoology) mashed up with a less likely early episode of Grimm. We have the travelling salesman, the alien overlord (maybe, maybe not), the super-secret terrifying conspiracy group, and a Scully twin (I think). While not everyone’s cup of tea, it will tickle many funny-bones.
Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth expands the fun, and tells the whole story of Rob’s gourmet runs: the reason for them, who exactly Shen is, who Agent Fuchs is, and how Pokemon Go can totally set you up for a tumble and hike through Hollow Earth. However, I found the beginning a little confusing at first, as the story did not pick up from the end of Book 0 (Fights A Unicorn), but overlaps some aspects of that memorable night in Book 0. Still, once my parallel universe reasoning came into play, I found it a very enjoyable story.
The Whole story:
Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn is a great introduction to the Rob Rogers series, and a way to get to know Rob’s backstory if you’ve already read A Paleolithic Fable, as I have done. It covers the first meeting of Shen and Rob, and introduces us to Agent Fuchs and her modus operandi. It also tells an unlikely equine love story.
Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth endeared me to Rob. He’s such a good family man, and opinionated, but in a nice, guy-next door way. It was interesting to see Thomas’ take on how such a normal (non-superhero) guy deals with some very strange and dangerous situations. It beautifully illustrates the old saying: ‘Be careful what you wish for.’
For the most part, I enjoyed the humour, and the interaction between the characters. I also loved the callbacks to A Paleolithic Fable with a Yuwa and his tribe.
I must also confess that while I was slow in reading the first few chapters, the further I got into it, the more and more engrossed I got. Considering I was reading chapters between long-haul flights, and then spent precious catching-up-to-writing time reading this story is a testament to my interest in seeing if the evil guys were going to get their just profiteroles, and how Rob would survive his first UFO flight.
What I loved about this story:
Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: I loved the whole warped X-Files episode feel to it, and I must admit, I didn’t see the equine twist coming. The modern, mundane setting is familiar and the supernatural elements fit in seamlessly. I confess to having a soft spot for Shen and his snarkiness too.
Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: The food and regional delicacies! I also enjoyed Thomas’ characterization, in particular Rob’s internal conflict. I also enjoyed Shen’s greater depth, and surprising ‘dudeness’. The action was well written and believable, too. Rob is often out of his depth, and there’s no sudden unbelievable spin to make up for his human limitations, which makes him very easy to relate to.
What I thought could be better:
Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: At times, it can read like a guys-own story, which I thought distracted from the main action going on, but it fits in the old-timey pulpy-feel very well, I thought. I also thought the beginning was a little too long and would have preferred the action to arrive sooner.
Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: Again, I thought the action took too long to begin. Also, if you’ve read Fights A Unicorn first, the overlap in the first few chapters seems contrary and confusing, and it took me a while to adjust.
So what did I learn from this whole experience?
Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: Unicorns, and tartan shirts, are not to be messed with. Too much alcohol leads to wild chases through forests (okay, maybe sometimes).
Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: Where to find those regional delicacies, of course! And, as a non-Pokemon player, Pokemon speak.
I Recommend to: Old-timey Pulp Fiction magazine aficionados, DC/Marvel lovers seeking a new universe, foodies with a taste for the fantastic, X-Files and the lighter side of Grimm fans.