Obstacle 2 in the What’s in a Name Reading Challenge: Jam by Yahtzee Croshaw…
This is the first title I’ve attempted from my Non-Christie-Listie, as well as the first title from Category 2 (something you might find in the kitchen) and I am happy to report that it has been successfully (and cheerfully) vanquished.
This is Croshaw’s second novel, after Mogworld, and it certainly displays the same swift and silly plotting and characterisation. Jam follows the story of Travis, a young man who wakes up one morning to discover that his city (incidentally, the one in which I also reside!) has been invaded by flesh-eating jam. So begins a rollicking romp around Brisbane (Australia, not Texas) involving a cheeky tarantula, plenty of ironic ironicisms and plastic bag fashions a-plenty.
This Novel’s Point of Difference:
Um. I’d say it’s probably the jampocalypse aspect.
- One of Croshaw’s great strengths is silliness-in-appropriate-quantities and this book is jam-packed (pun-intended).with the same. There’s a lot of humour and laugh out loud lines in this book – it’s really one for when you need a bit of a chuckle or aren’t in the mood for anything too heavy in the thinking department.
- It’s set in Bris-vegas….I quite enjoyed seeing the cityscape on the front cover and being able to recognise the Gotham City Building (I don’t know it’s actual name…since it was built everybody I know has only ever referred to it as the Gotham City Building)
- It’s a fantastically welcome change from Zombie-related apocalypses (apocalypsi??), and scary, bring-us-all-down dystopian thrillers.
- It’s silly. Now I realise I just put this in Pros, but I’ve read a lot of reviews (from people who are familiar with Croshaw’s work, weirdly) that panned this book because some of the events depicted were too silly to be credible. I found this a bit odd, considering the whole premise is based on apocalypse by carnivorous strawberry preserve. But I suppose, if you are after strictly believable scenarios, this is not the book you’re looking for.
- I found it hard to recognise my own city in parts of this work….Croshaw faithfully recreates Brisbane landmarks and general layouts, except in the naming of two buildings in which most of the action takes place. So the Myer Centre becomes the Briar Centre, and the Hitachi building becomes the Hibatsu building….but other landmarks, such as the Wintergarden and plenty of streets are given their proper names….as a local, I found this irritating as it got in the way of me picturing the action as it was occuring in places I know very well.
- Croshaw uses plenty of American dialect words despite mostly Australian characters in an Australian setting – for example” ice pops” (we call ’em ice blocks here), “community college” (TAFE), “janitor” (cleaning staff), “middle school” (we only have primary and high), “wastepaper baskets” (bins)….I found this quite SPECTACULARLY annoying.
He sighed. “There isn’t much we can do without electricity, but my team has been researching alternatives. One of my engineers proposed a system of fans powered by dogs in giant hamster wheels, but the major issue there is our limited dog inventory. We’ll keep looking into it”. p199
Although I have listed three cons, in honesty, if you are not a Brisbanite, it is unlikely you will even notice the specific local references (or lack thereof) that irritated me so. If you’ve never tried Croshaw’s work before and you are open-minded, enjoy a bit of silly humour and particularly if you are aged 20 – 40 and interested in gaming, you should probably give it a go.
Oh, and here’s a link to some pictures of the Gotham City Building for your viewing pleasure:
Until next time,