Friday, January 11, 2013

Review of: The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse by Nina Post

The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse is an urban fantasy novel dealing with demons, fallen angels and an interesting array of monsters.  Kelly Drisoll has been hired by Destroying Angel of the Apocalypse to track down a rival angel.  This search takes her to Amenity Towers, which houses earthbound angels and all manner of monsters.  To carry out her investigation, Kelly dons a multitude of disguises and claims to be various professions.  She is given two days to carry out her task and with armageddon at stake, Kelly cannot afford to waste a single minute but unfortunately, the residents of Amenity Towers have other ideas.

I was drawn to this book by the title.  It conveyed a lightheartedness that isn't a regular occurrence in urban fantasy.  From the very beginning of the story however, I was confused.  Post does not spend any time at all building her world and it feels a bit like being thrown into whirling mass of confusion.  Clearly, there is some understanding that humans are not the only sentient beings because a local college offers courses in vampire hunting; however, the foundations of this understanding are not explained in the least. There is no explanation as to whether or not this is universally understood or something unique to the fictional Pothole City.

I know that Post was counting on humour to sell this story but outside of the actual condo meetings themselves, the book fell very flat.  There were times when I was downright bored and found myself leaving to do something else.  Part of the problem is that The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse is just too busy.  There are too many angels and monsters to possibly keep track of.  Some characters appear for a few pages, simply to disappear without their relevance to the story being explained.  This of course added to the general lack of coherence in the story. In many ways, The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse suffered from a lack of content editing.  For example, we are told Raum told AF about his plans to escape the condo, yet it was AF who actually escaped and then said he was the one who told Raum how to leave. If the writer cannot keep track of their own plot, how is the reader supposed to do so?  What do all of the little interludes have to do with advancing the plot?  The entire book felt disjointed to me.

As aforementioned, the protagonist is Kelly Drisoll, a no nonsense human.  Kelly is quick on her feet and extremely inventive. I enjoyed the ease at which she took on different roles to complete her investigation but felt that I didn't really got to know her as a person.  Post did include a small flashback, which in part helped to explain Kelly's motivations but really fell short of good characterization. It is however worth nothing that Post did fall prey to a common urban fantasy trope in that once again, we have a protagonist who is on her own, after the tragic death of her family at a very young age.

The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse is yet another highly erased urban fantasy novel.  Normally, I would take issue with this but because none of the demons or angels were really raced and there was no sexual aspect to the story altogether, it cannot be said that Post was privileging one group over the other.  It still however would have been nice to see a bit more diversity, given the high propensity of erasure in urban fantasy.  It always amazes me that writers can imagine such fantastic worlds, yet cannot seem to include historically marginalized people.

As you can probably tell from this review, I am not a fan The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse. Though Post did continually return to the main gist of the plot itself, the continual shifts made the story had to follow.  The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse, is rife with useless information and lacking all of the key elements to create a cohesive plot and good characterization.  Had the novel been filled with good humour, I may have been able to look over its faults and enjoy the journey for what it is.  I won't say unreservedly that this is a book that you should skip, because your sense of humour could be different than mine, but if coherence is a big deal to you, this might be one to skip.

Editors Note: A copy of this book was received from Netgalley