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Blood Electric, by Kenji Siratori
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Creation Books
Published: 2005
Review Posted: 9/18/2006
Reviewer Rating: No Stars!
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Blood Electric, by Kenji Siratori

Book Review by C. Dennis Moore

Have you read this book?

I know a lot of people who, if a book doesn't grab them in the first 50 pages or so, will put it down and read something else. What? But what if the first 50 pages is just set up and the book you just put down has the best ending ever written? You could be missing the most rewarding reading experience of your life and you'll never know because you didn't finish it.

I feel compelled to finish everything. If I start a book, no matter how horribly written or plodding it is, I have to finish it. Mostly because I'm going to review it and you can't review a book you didn't read, but also because I just can't NOT finish it once I've started it. I can count on one hand the number of books I've put down unfinished in the last 5 years. Two. Now make that three. I got 28 pages into Kenji Siratori's "new Japanese cyberpunk classic" Blood Electric before I gave up with a heavy sigh and a great big "Whatever, man!"

So how, you ask, can I justify reviewing this book when I didn't even give it the respect of a 50 page rule?

Here's how:

"I record the vital-icon(plus)our chromosome form escape of the suck=blood chromosome::the horizon of the body fluid=murder like the dog that was done to nude gene=TV/spasm//I am disillusioned with the volume inoculation of hydromachine::the circuit without the end of masses of flesh::I disappear with the body of the machine nature of ToK::I suck the porno nerve gas of boy-roid//The soul/gram of self crushes to the quantum tragedy of NDRO//Output=criminal of the internal-organ-system It quantifies(plus plus)maso=traffic::of ToKAGE that crowds in the Cadaver City-city//Soul/gram of which liquefied internal body fluid(plus plus)of self that caused digital-vamp the rape function::the beast that proliferates is imprisoned to the hologram of a dog and reverb//Malice of crucified memory/"

That's the opening paragraph. A few HTML symbols aside, which the filters won't allow me to include, that's how the book starts, word for word, punctuation and all. And it doesn't get better. I'd hoped this was all just some kind of prologue that doesn't really make sense at first but once I reach the actual story things will clear up and I'll get to read a really cool, weird story.

Nope. Page 22:

"Cadaver(plus)suck//boy-roid of existence=head of which howls at the regeneration multiple space of the crash=body that reproduces her icon form brain=the script replicates self::too the crucified memory of murder - the city - oneiric locus of which functioned to breed cadaver-feti::the artificial sun that murders the brain of self in a genome form lobe rapes the defleshed screen to the emotional=replicant of the ovarium that was distorted:the circuit that was sutured - the drugging of cold-blooded disease animals evolved - the hologram=virus of the murder within the brain that mutated to the gram-girl doll who respires reverb into digital=vamp::/"

I'm all for experimentation in your work and when someone hits on a way of telling a story that's unlike any I've read before, I love it, I eat that stuff right up. Like Mark Danielewski's awesome "House of Leaves. I'd hoped Blood Electric would be another case like that, where the author was so into the work, so intent on creating something totally unique and brilliant that I'd come away from it feeling like I'd just been staring into the face of a greatness I'd never achieve. Nope. Hell, I can string together a bunch of repetitive sentences and throw in a few colons and slashes and stuff.

I pressed on, read the first few chapters. But it soon became apparent that, not only did I not understand a word of what I was reading, I wasn't even sure HOW I was supposed to be reading it. Do the slashes serve as some kind of punctuation? The dog ran/The dog jumped/The dog bit at fleas/? Or are the slashes part of the text? The dog ran slash the dog jumped slash? And the two plus symbols, is that read as "plus plus" or what? You can't really read a book when you're not sure HOW to read it, you know?

I think the reason I'm so disappointed in this book is because, of all the books I've received to review recently, I was most looking forward to this one. The back cover really intrigued me and made me want to dive into this and, hopefully, be blown away.

"A fatal collusion of drag embryos and DNA angels in Cadaver City ignites the circuitry of the ADAM Doll... dogs of zero waging gene war in Placenta World, chaos unleashed by the digital vampires of Sato Corporation, nano-junk virus pandemic. On the pink ash planet EVOL, ADAM and ANTI-ADAM clash in terminal zodiac burn... enter robo-succubus Super Cherry 666, hunting for the grotesque nova skulls of Sato Corporation napalm torture victims.

"Vividly evoking the coming to consciousness of an artificial intelligence, Blood Electric is a devastating loop of language from the Japanese avant-garde which breaks with all existing writing traditions."

Now THAT sounds pretty interesting. It's weird and will probably take some concentration when reading it, but it sounds awesome. If only the actual BOOK had read more like that. This stream of consciousness stuff I could have worked out in the reading, but all that //::= stuff? I tried to piece together what I could from the text to try to find anything that resembled this back cover copy and I read the words "Cadaver City" and "dog" over and over, but in all those pages I read not one bit of anything that seemed like a STORY.

Blood Electric is not a novel, it's a string of nonsense that wants to make you think it's smarter than it is and you'll be smarter because you read it, because it's avant-garde and strange and it's not for everybody, so if you read it, you'll be one of the cool ones who doesn't really get it but doesn't want to say so because you think everyone else gets it and you don't want to be the dumb one. The title should have been THE EMPEROR'S NEW NOVEL.

If you like your stories to make even a hint of sense, steer clear of this book. You've read the excerpts. You've been warned. It doesn't get any better, believe me. You know, you can learn something from anything. Even the crap teaches you what NOT to write. Not so in this case. There are no lessons to be learned because I would never sink to utter gibberish and then try to convince readers it's a novel. Avoid this one.

(those excerpts above are missing symbols, but the html filters won't allow them in the text. Also, the (plus plus) in the excerpts should be the actual symbols, but it won't allow those, either)
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