Starter Villain by John Scalzi

The author’s previous novel Red Shirts plays off the trope that every time in Star Trek a team goes on an away mission, a red shirted security officer dies. The characters slowly realize this is happening to them, and they need to figure out what to do about it. I read this book and enjoyed it very much. It was clever, funny, and propulsive. So when Scalzi came out with his latest novel Starter Villain, I was excited to read it.

The main character is Charlie, a down on his luck divorced substitute teacher trying to buy a pub and change his life. After learning that his estranged Uncle has died, one of his employees shows up with an unusual request. She wants him to “stand up” for his uncle at his funeral. While doing so, things get even weirder. Eventually, he learns that his uncle was a villain, complete with a volcanic island lair and genetically altered sentient cats.

Despite the absurd premise, this novel actually works in the same quirky way that Red Shirts works. Charlie is an every man that is easy to root for as he begins to learn the family business and attempt to hold his own against his competitors. Naturally, not everything goes to plan and the ending is one that I feel like I should have seen coming, but I didn’t. I was simply too busy enjoying the ride to try to figure out where it was going.

My rating: 4/5

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