Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea

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Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Life for a retired mercenary does not come any better than being the manager of a prestigious house of ill repute. Koko loves her life and her job, but once she kills a couple of her patrons everything is turned upside down. 'Koko takes a Holiday' is action-packed and humorous pulp science fiction at its best.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: June 2014
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781781168608

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Pulp science fiction is not as easy a genre to carry off as you may think; it takes more than just a voluptuous catsuit-wearing alien firing off laser cannons (but that can only help). Pulp is often just that; pulp. It should be shredded and used to soak up the juices in landfill, but when it is done right, it can be excellent. When someone writes a book that is darkly funny, intelligent and a little ultraviolent, you may just have the perfect mix. A perfect mix called ‘Koko Takes a Holiday’, by Kieran Shea.

Koko is a former mercenary turned manager of a brothel. This brothel happens to be on a prestigious holiday island on future Earth. She cannot believe her luck, until she kills two patrons and has to go on the run from the shady cooperation who manages the holiday islands. This is more like the life Koko understands; one of violence, of shooting first and then apologising later. How is Evil Corp™ going to stop her? The only person who can stop a former mercenary is probably a current one, or three …

On the surface, ‘Koko’ is a daft science fiction thriller that basks a little too keenly in violence, but perhaps this is missing the point. Like ‘Robocop’, Shea has created a future world that appears to be very different from our own, but if you look closely enough it is really a darkly comic reflection of current life. People clambering to sate their own selfish desires, companies with God like complexes, fights to the death in the pits – ok perhaps that one is not so true.

In between telling the story of Koko’s flight (and her return), there are a series of adverts in the book that really flesh out the world of Shea’s future Earth. It is a world that is run by corporations who hire private armies to kill the opposition. A world where people are grown in labs and not born. A world in which the rich live off the hardships of the poor. If this was truly base pulp fiction, these ideas would not come sharply into focus as you read the book.

The great thing about ‘Koko takes a Holiday’ is that it does have some cerebral ideas in it, but they are well hidden. Instead, the main focus of the book is action and humour. You will have to have a darker sense of humour, but Shea does a brilliant job in ‘Koko’ of subverting many stereotypes of the science fiction genre and creating shocks that work to great effect. There is also a brilliant lead in Koko. Here is the type of strong heroine that drives a book forwards with or without the help of some bloke.

With its bleak view of the future and shift in the battle of the sexes from men to women, ‘Koko’ has a lot in common with the recent Arthur C Clarke nominee God's War by Kameron Hurley. However, whilst that book was about an ultraviolent female lead who took what she wanted, ‘Koko’ is the same, but with a knowing wink. The book is not all glib, there are moments of poignancy, but frankly, they are hidden behind a wall of crimson ultraviolence. Is this a book for everyone? Certainly not, but for any fan of entertaining science fiction it is an excellent title. I for one cannot wait for the next instalment.

Sammy Recommendation

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy God's War by Kameron Hurley, Class: What She Does Next Will Astound You by James Goss and Libriomancer by Jim C Hines.

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Buy Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea at Amazon.com.


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