Book review: The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse by Nina Post

Publisher’s blurb:1

Kelly Driscoll tracks down monsters for a living, but the job isn’t what it used to be.

Vampire hunters are the new big thing, but Kelly doesn’t swing that way. When a reclusive client hires her to locate a rival angel, Kelly’s search takes her to a downtown highrise that has become home to hundreds of fallen angels and dimension-hopping monsters.

As the fallen angels take over the condo board, argue over who’s handling pizza delivery, and begin planning for a little shindig otherwise known as the apocalypse, Kelly must team up with an unlikely group of allies to find her target and keep the fallen angels at bay. In the process, she befriends a reluctant Angel of Destruction, gets tips from a persistent ferret, uncovers the mysteries behind Pothole City’s hottest snack food empire, and tries to prevent the end of the world.

The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse is a light-hearted urban fantasy novel, combining angels, monsters and other supernatural elements with realistic characters and a comedic tone.

I…am not quite sure what to say about this one. I had a really hard time writing this review, because I want to say why it didn’t work for me, but I don’t want to give away huge chunks of the plot. Especially since the WTFery goes into overdrive in the last half of this thing, and from my experience most people don’t like it when I give away huge chunks of the end of a book.

But. I will try my best to explain why this left me in an ambivalent state of dazed confusion without giving away the ending. I will TRY. But be warned: this review may end up with a boatload of spoilers in it anyway. So if you’re planning to read this book and don’t want to know what happens, then read this review AFTER you’ve read the book. If you don’t care either way, then by all means, read on.

Kelly is a bounty hunter in dire need of cash. (It’s a tough economy out there, guys, even in a place called Pothole City.) She takes a job offer from a Single Purpose angel named Murray, though she’d actually be working for Murray’s boss—an angel of destruction and the apocalypse who calls himself Don. (Yeah…“Don” doesn’t exactly conjure up images of dark and evil and destructive, but maybe that’s the point.)

Don clearly is not a single purpose angel. (I’m sure destruction requires a lot of multitasking.) He is, however, agoraphobic, and “goes places” by sending a telepresence robot. I have no idea what a telepresence robot actually is, but I in my head I saw R2-D2 with its holographic screen thing turned on and Don’s face taped to its head. (There’s one scene where Don the robot looks at Kelly through an image of Huevos Rancheros, which…yeah, I don’t know.)

Murray, on the other hand, is the SP of commerce traders and bankers. He also talks, which is apparently a rare thing in an SP. (Seriously, the SPs sound like overgrown, mute, genius two year olds with bad fashion sense. They’re actually kinda adorable. I want one.) So Murray sets Kelly up in an old art deco former office building turned apartment, and it’s a good thing she’s got the entire building to herself because she inadvertently ends up adopting half the SPs in Pothole City. (Though technically they adopt her.) All this costs money (especially the SPs’ food, since they only eat stuff called Cluck Snacks). But that’s okay, Don will reimburse her. All she has to do is fill out some expense reports and send them via this pneumatic tube thing that reminds me of the cashier tubes I see at Costco. (Angels don’t have email?)

Anyway. Now that Kelly’s got a place to stay, a corporate credit card, and some angel-pets, she’s ready to get to work. Don’s hired her to find a fallen angel of destruction and the apocalypse (how many apocalypse angels does the world really need?) at a place called Amenity Tower, the high-rise condo of fallen angels and demon monsters that randomly pop out of the air vents. (Yeah.)

To make matters worse, no human visitor has ever made it out of Amenity Tower alive—they tend to get eaten by the demon monsters. (Crappy, that.) But luckily Kelly’s the master (mistress?) of disguises, so she can get in and out of the building without getting eaten.

Seriously, this girl’s got enough costumes to fill out a film production’s wardrobe department. All in her one duffel bag, too.

So. The fallen angels. There are a few, since Amenity Tower is where they all end up getting bound, but we spend time with a few of them. There’s Af (which I kept misreading as “Alf,” and I kept wondering why the cute, furry alien was masquerading as a wreaker of havoc), an angel of destruction, bringer of the apocalypse, and prince of darkness; Raum, who is…another angel of destruction, bringer of the apocalypse, and prince of darkness (seriously, how many apocalypse angels ARE there?); and a few other angels that pop into Amenity Tower with Raum.

The first thing Raum and his gang do once they realize they’ve been bound to a building is…form the condo board. (Say what?) Raum does it because he wants to be free to, you know, bring about the apocalypse. (Understandable.) Af, who’s been in the tower for a while, just wants to be left alone, but Raum makes him member at large because they need five people to make a quorum. And then later more angels show up as part of the board, and they’ve been living there a while, so this whole condo board thing just confuses me.

Meanwhile, Kelly’s popping in and out of the building and trying to avoid Roger, the building manager, who is some sort of angel and has his own TV show that’s filmed in an in-building TV studio (yeah, I don’t even know.)

And then…the plot splits in two. On one hand, we’ve got Kelly trying to find this angel for Don, and on the other we have…Kelly trying to find the guy who set fire to her family like twenty years ago or something.

Say what now? WHAT fire? And who is that bald guy who shows up in Don’s Hell lodge that Kelly recognizes on sight? What the HELL is going on here?

And apparently Kelly found the angel within the first half hour of her search. WTF? Why didn’t she say anything? Because she was looking for the pyromaniac who set fire to her family? I don’t even…my mind won’t stop boggling.

WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS. Highlight the text if you want to read it.

So yeah, Kelly figures out who actually set the fire, thanks to help from a ferret who turns out to be a man who’s really an angel who was turned into a ferret but has now been turned into a man (got all that?). And he helps her by giving her a pellet of ferret food that has the brand engraved on it. Which is identical to the pellet she’s been carrying around in her pocket all these years, ever since the fire.

Um, what? Also, gross.

And the WTFery gets even more random from here. Af loses his shit WHILE AT THE DENTIST—where he is at because he was taken there by a ferryman—and goes on a rampage of gentle destruction (I don’t even know how to explain that). Raum and his buddies try to escape Amenity Tower by hiding in a dumpster (apparently it’s a loophole in the binding contract), but Af talks them out of it after he returns to human form once he’s done destroying Pothole City. Roger engineers a confrontation between Kelly and the pyro angel in his TV studio (while live on the air). And Kelly gets her revenge by sending all bound and fallen angels to the pyro’s office, where said pyro is now also bound.

Then Roger ascends and Kelly becomes interim manager of Amenity Tower. And Don sends her a telepresence robot to tell her to go on vacation? Or something. I don’t actually know.

And why was Kelly’s family killed, anyway? I don’t know. I think it’s because they own the company that makes Cluck Snacks, and the angel who ordered the hit didn’t like that fact. Or something. I don’t even know, and at this point in the story I was too confused to try to figure it out.

So, yeah, I’m sorry to say this book just didn’t work for me. It was well-written, though; the author clearly has talent. She has an engaging writing style and her author voice clicked with me—the book certainly didn’t take itself seriously. Normally this is a good thing—I get enough dark and angsty UFs to edit; I don’t need to read them in my spare time.

Unfortunately, in this case it might’ve needed some serious interjected with all those campy plot twists that kept popping up. In the end, the book lacked a cohesiveness that it really, really needed. There came a point in time when the WTFery got to be too much, and I ended up just getting lost in the jumbled pile of random.

If I were to look at this at writing skill alone, it would be at least a B+, possibly higher. Unfortunately, the jumpy jerkiness of the plot lost me, and I had to drop the grade down to a C.

 

  1. Review copy provided by Curiosity Quills Press

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I'm Canadian, which according to movies and TV means I'm part of the group that's almost always wiped out during the apocalypse. I’ve watched too much Star Trek and Stargate over the years and spend too much time at my computer. Now, I'm waiting for the arrival of (and human enslavement by) the Borg or the Goa'uld. That is, if my computer doesn’t swallow me first.

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