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Kop by Warren Hammond
Typically when I write a review, I tell you what I liked about the book, the characters, and anything else that stood out for me. I jot down a few notes when I’m reading, and when I finish the book, I will pick it up again and flip through my favorite passages as I write the review. I didn’t do that this time because the truth is, I didn’t like this book; I didn’t finish it, which is rare for me. I don’t want to bash someone’s work, I know how much effort and stress goes into writing a book, so I wasn’t going to post a review at all. Still, someone pointed out that I currently have no negative reviews up, and I need to be fair about what I liked or didn’t in my reviews, so I thought long and hard about this, with apologies in advance, here goes.
Kop is set in the future on a planet that is roughly ten years of space travel away from Earth. The entire population of the planet lives in one of two cities, and the majority of them are living in the equivalent of tent cities because the original planned colony and economy has collapsed. More refugees from Earth come pouring in every day. In this setting, a group of dirty cops is partnering with the local mafia to have control of everything.
The big complaints first: There are a few problems with world inconsistency here. While I can accept that travel and communications from Earth to this planet would take ten years. Ok, except that there also is a network of satellites that link back to Earth, and some characters don’t seem to have the same delay issues for messages or goods. Their messages aren’t instant, but they have a turn around time of hours to days, not decades. The main economy now is based on smuggled goods because, despite the incredible growth rate of the jungle, only ONE possible crop is viable. This means that they are still importing most of their food and provisions from Earth so they are still living in the 70s. It sort of feels like a Kojak rerun if it was set somewhere in a South American Jungle.
Enter our main character, a crooked cop who is indistinguishable from a street thug, or any other mob enforcer. Juno is retiring from being a thug, not because he cares about being as messed up as he is, he is just getting old and can’t keep up with the younger guys who are beating him up all the time. We know this because Juno spends a lot of time bemoaning the fact. He doesn’t feel the least bit guilty about being a thug. He proves his manliness by pushing around and causing the death of a disabled child. Even in the parallel story of his younger years we are given, I didn’t see anything likable about him. He decides to be corrupt and never really seems to think about it. He doesn’t even stop to think before agreeing to go along with the plot. While character flaws make for interesting characters, Juno is so flawed he is indistinguishable from the villains. The only character growth here is when Juno decides to stop pursuing an illicit romance with someone who is pretty clear about not being interested. It’s not because of the disinterest, but rather Juno feels he couldn’t force the issue without getting beaten up or fired early. Maybe (I hope) there is character growth in the next two novels.
There is a lot of action in the story, but not all of it serves to further the plot, and there are some scenes that are more for the sake of putting in more action than anything else. At first, I attributed this to my own personal dislike of overly violent and gory scenes. Still, as a few more of them piled in, it seemed to me that the gore did little to further the plot; a lot of the scenes left me confused and disgusted rather than intrigued or informed. In the end, I cared so little about Juno and his crew that I didn’t finish the last two chapters of the book and forgot that I didn’t finish. My husband recapped for me a couple of weeks later. My husband did like the book, and he can tell you about Juno’s revenge. I needed something more than a very dislikable central character being angry at getting caught to keep my interest.
2 out of 5 stars