My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book has been likened to some cross over of the following books: A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, Naked Lunch, Stand By Me and some others (not all in the same review.)
It’s not. Bad Ideas/Chemicals is a book totally defying categorisation.
Goregree is a half-finished project, discarded by its maker. Or stopped midway because of the unearthing of another settlement there before. Or a conglomeration of houses that somehow managed to become a place. Does it matter? No. The truth is: living in Goregree sucks.
It’s become a joke. The phrase ‘I’m not from round here,’ is passed around by all of its inhabitants. Because, even though some of them were actually born there, no one feels it belongs to them. No one wants it to belong to them. All it has going for it is a Star Trek themed bar, a constant supply of oddballs, and seemingly limitless supplies of GOTE.
GOTE is a ‘Bad Idea/Chemical.’ Made from foetuses whose mother’s have ingested poison from the ‘roaches’ (that look nothing like cockroaches) this drug takes you on highs that no other drug does. It
Fittingly, the ‘best’ job that you can find in Goregree is working for ‘Mercy:’ the NHS’ privatised company that deals with assisted dying and euthanasia. Particularly fitting for Louie, one of the central protagonists, whose father is dying of alcoholism, and feels like checking himself into ‘Mercy.’ He’s not the only one…
The characters are all whacky, interesting and well drawn. Cassandra walks around in an orange spaceship; convinced she is an alien after seeing a film about ‘Alpha Centurai’ as a child. You’d think that would be weird. Not so much in Goregree. Here, anything goes.
This book is, at times, sardonically funny, but the humour is very black. But don’t take it merely as humour. This book is actually a very well drawn comment on society today: the neglect of social and mental health care, the effects of parenting, and the casual substance misuse that is rife in small towns. Markham isn’t afraid to write about big issues.
All in all, ‘Bad Ideas/Chemicals’ is a unique, warped and very thought-provoking read. One to read in an hour, then ponder over for ten times longer.
Thank you to Parthian Press for the chance to read this book; all thoughts and comments are my own.
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