Starter Villain by John Scalzi (Reviewed by Shazzie)

 Book Review: Starter Villain by John Scalzi

starter villain by john scalzi

Buy Starter Villain here – U.S. | U.K.

Official Author Website

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: JOHN SCALZI is one of the most popular SF authors of his generation. His debut Old Man’s War won him the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His New York Times bestsellers include The Last Colony, Fuzzy Nation,and Redshirts (which won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel), and 2020’s The Last Emperox. Material from his blog, Whatever, has also earned him two other Hugo Awards. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Inheriting his late uncle’s business proves complicated. It’s also way more dangerous than Charlie could ever have imagined. Because his uncle had kept his supervillain status a secret – until now.

Divorced and emotionally dependent on his cat, Charlie wasn’t loving life. Although they weren’t close, news of his Uncle Jack’s death didn’t help. And that was before Jake’s rivals (seriously vengeful ones) ambushed his funeral. Now Charlie must decide if he should stay stuck in his rut, or step up to take on the business, the enemies, the minions, the hidden volcano lair . . .

Even harder to get used to are the sentient, language-using, computer-savvy cats – and the fact that in the organization’s hierarchy, they’re management. If Charlie does say yes, this lifeline could become a death wish. Because there’s much more to being an Evil Mastermind than he suspected. Yet could this also, finally, be his chance to shine?

FORMAT/INFO: Starter Villain will be published by Tor Books and Pan Macmillan in hardback, ebook and audio formats on 19th September 2023.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Starter Villain by John Scalzi is a clever and fun contemporary science fiction book that’s an easy sell.  

The protagonist Charlie, is an ex-journalist down on his luck, now an absentee teacher. He’s at odds with the siblings who co-own his parental home, which, explodes. Suspiciously, at the same time, finds himself inheriting his absentee businessman uncle’s legacy, which he is told was “parking lots”. Only, Uncle Jake wasn’t just into parking lots, he diversified his investments and endeavours, which is how Charlie finds himself the brand new owner of a super-villain empire.

The premise might sound over the top and ridiculous, but Scalzi has it all well thought out, and makes his points well throughout the book. Whatever you think a supervillain does, you’re likely wrong. By the time Charlie comes around to accept his new situation, he realises it’s more corporate than he would think, and apparently the money can’t just be liquefied because he has it. His induction to the empire was fraught with over-the-top revelations, as well as unionising dolphins, and boring presentations, something I thoroughly enjoyed. Through all of this, his reactions and responses were priceless, but the author keeps the story moving at a brisk pace with his tongue-in-cheek writing style.

This is literary popcorn at its finest, and takes every opportunity to take shots at our capitalist world. There are talking dolphins, C-suite cats, and assistants with compelling backstories and relationships. There are multiple explosive events that just cement the unpredictability of this lifestyle, and while the protagonist is a fish out of water, he finds that some of his skills as an ex-journalist serve him in his new role, especially when forging alliances are concerned. As for me, I did not know which way to turn, but the book ends in a way that makes sense for his inclinations.

CONCLUSION: Starter Villain is a short book with a ton of fun packed into it. There are thugs, genetically engineered animals that negotiate for contract amendments, clever banter, as well as a plot that is one hell of a ride. It’s a book you’ll want to read in one sitting, and while I write this review, I already want to crack it open a second time. Highly recommended to all readers alike.

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