- Wild Thing by Josh Bazell
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books; 1 edition (February 8, 2012)
- ISBN-13: 978-0316032193
Who and what is the book about (back-of-the-book blurb): It’s hard to find work as a doctor when using your real name will get you killed. So hard that when a reclusive billionaire offers Dr. Peter Brown, aka Pietro Brnwa, a job accompanying a sexy but self-destructive paleontologist on the world’s worst field assignment, Brown has no real choice but to say yes. Even if it means that an army of murderers, mobsters, and international drug dealers-not to mention the occasional lake monster-are about to have a serious Pietro Brnwa problem.
Facing new and old monsters alike, Dr. Brnwa’s story continues in this darkly funny and lightning-paced follow up to Josh Bazell’s bestselling debut.
Where and when does it take place: The major of Wild Thing is in the present day (and “last summer”) in White Lake, Minnesota. This is a remote area with a chain of smaller lakes, supposedly accessible only via portage of non-motorized boats.
What would I say to a friend who asked me about it: Wild Thing opens with two pair of teens hanging out and doing the ‘wild thing’ on the shores of White Lake. Teen pleasure soon turns to horror when two of the group are killed, their bodies maimed by an unseen and unidentifiable lake monster, the Wild Thing.
When a reclusive billionaire (Rec Bill) hires “Dr. Lionel Azimuth” (the assumed name of Peter Brown / Pietro Brnwa who is in the witness protection program) to partner with a gorgeous paleontologist to find the truth behind the lake monster, things start to get really …. weird.
A camera crew, special government guests, and wild animal wranglers have been invited to a camp on the lake for a weekend of potential capture of the mythic lake monster. Rec Bill plans to offer a reward for the animal, which he believes to be a throw-back to an earlier species, unique in the world today.
I *loved* Bazell’s first novel, Beat the Reaper – it was full of sex, cursing, gore, and … fun! While Wild Thing has the first three elements in abundance, the fun didn’t really grab me. There are definitely a few shocking laugh-out-loud moments (the arrival of the special government rep!), but the political element and not-so-subtle environmental message made me feel manipulated.
Why did I read it: Three years ago I listened to the audiobook edition of Beat the Reaper and have recommended it to several friends; I was so pleased to know that Bazell had another book out, that I picked it right up.
A few favorite passages: As in Beat the Reaper, Josh Bazell uses a lot of dry humor, allowing the Lionel Azimuth character to shoot off one-liners and sharp retorts like a sarcastic stand-up comedian. I suppose with the variety of mobsters and drug dealers who are after him, Brown/Azimuth can afford to risk offense with his sharp tongue (and he is funny!).
Bazell is the master of footnotes – these are not notes that you wan to skip; they not only enhance the storyline, but add humor (and sometimes horror).
On pages 352-353, a footnote goes into great detail on the regenerative process of teeth after a traumatic injury. The footnote concludes with this aside (asterisk substitutions are mine):
… As always, if you take any part of this or any other novel as medical advice, you are a dumb f***ing idiot.
What else can I add: I enjoy Bazell’s writing, and love the edgy/snarky/I-couldn’t-care-less attitude of the narrator, and look forward to reading more of him (hoping for more fun and less sermonizing). The “he said, she said” review of Wild Thing by Jill and Jim at Rhapsody in Books blog points out that the political and environmental themes of the novel make it a great choice for a book group discussion.