Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig

I’m a big fan of Mr Wendig. I  get my ra-ra skirt and pom-poms out whenever I hear he has something new for me to read. Sorry about giving you that image.

Although this short story has a different feel to Mr Wendig’s previously published works I would recognize this as one of his works instantly. There is a definite voice that permeates his work. There is one line that I remember being used in one of his blog posts and it still made me chuckle. Some jokes just work.

Unusually I’m going to talk about the epilogue before I mention the plot. The epilogue sets the bounds for this series of stories. Readers willing (please but this as I for one want to read the second one) there will be four short stories that whilst self-contained will form an over-arching story arc. Quick, dirty and easy to read. Right up my alley then. Also discussed is whether this book is YA (Young Adult). It deals with teen issues, has main characters that are teens and would probably appeal to teens. Sounds like a perfect fit? If you haven’t read his work before you may be surprised by the profanity Mr Wendig imparts to his work. Teens swear right? Not in front of us if they are smart, but swear they most certainly do. For that reason alone I can’t see this book reaching the top of the YA charts or being recommended by teachers across the land.

The main protagonist is called Atlanta Burns, that alone should be a clue that her world is not exactly a happy place. Atlanta has had to deal with some pretty screwed up stuff and her eventual escape from her bad situation left her as mentally damaged and scarred as the physical wounds  she left on her mum’s boyfriend. Three months in therapy outside of school and her history has turned her into a pariah. Her old friends aoid eye contact and nobody else has any interest in being anywhere near her.

Knowing what it is like to be bullied in the worst way possible Atlanta can’t help saving one of the geeks from her school from a beating. Shane is thankful and along with his friend Chris want to pay Atlanta to help prevent the bullying and abuse they are receiving from two sets of thugs. Atlanta comes up with a cunning and brilliant plan (milord) to deal with both sets of bullies at once. Unfortunately this does not exactly go to plan and things get even worse. The inevitable showdown with the shady force behind a big part of the violence is quite scary because it could quite easily be true. There are some truly unpleasant people out there and they are depicted rather well here.

I like the way that Atlanta asks herself at several points whether she is being racist, this certainly meshes with my memories of being an over-analytical teen. I could relate to Atlanta’s actions if not thankfully her experiences.

This is a cracking little read with plenty of potential for  successive stories. I will certainly be buying the next one.

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