From the VG Bookshelf: Hope Never Dies
From the VG Bookshelf: Hope Never Dies
It’s no secret the media has had a long-standing love affair with Barack Obama. Two years after he left office, the media longs for the good old days. Hollywood, cries for the days of our socialist Commander-in-Chief. But this obsession with the Obamas goes beyond the news media and Hollywood types. It has found home in traditional publishing as well. Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery, by Andrew Schaffer, is a prime example. This bromance is just the first in a series of books featuring the former President and Vice-President.
Lest you think main stream media looked at the book and laugh it off, here’s a blurb from the product page on Amazon:
The New York Times Best Seller
“[Hope Never Dies is] an escapist fantasy that will likely appeal to liberals pining for the previous administration, longing for the Obama-Biden team to emerge from political retirement as action heroes.”—Alexandra Alter, New York Times”
Take a moment to wrap your mind around that. Mind you, Marvel and DC Comics have been doing their best to destroy their product lines by becoming “inclusive” and “diversifying”. I have no doubt they’d love to have a socialist superhero in the mold of BHO, but what would Joe Biden’s superpower be? Able to grope from far distances? Grope and flee in the blink of an eye? The mind truly does boggle, doesn’t it?
From an editorial point of view, reading the first page (e-book edition) of a book subtitled “Obama/Biden fiction” and written in first-person, I should be able to figure out who the narrator is. All I know for certain is the author is trying really hard, too hard actually, to sound noir. We know the narrator is in a “black Irish mood”—and I won’t share my first thoughts on reading that. VBEG—and was apparently watching Youtube or its equivalent.
Then we get to this: “The camera panned down to the white-capped waves in the harbor. An impossibly long speedboat entered the frame, cutting through the surf like a buttered bullet.”
OMG. As someone on FB in the thread that birthed this post commented, “Did Chuckie Wendig write this?” It reminds me of the opening scene of one of his Star Wars books where the ship (tie-fighter, X-wing?) weebled and wobbled across the sky. And now I’m going to have the theme song for “weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” in my head the rest of the day.
Onto the next “page” and we finally find out, maybe, who the narrator is. At least we find out who it isn’t. You see, that boat isn’t alone in the shot. It is towing a parasailer behind it. “The camera zoomed in on the daredevil’s face, and I saw that my old friend Barack Obama was having the time of his life.”
Okay, so unless the author is really off on some sort of mind trip, we know the narrator isn’t Obama. Could Obama be the “friend” mentioned at the beginning of the chapter as having died? While my first reaction was to hope so, it would make for a short book since this is a bromance/mystery starring both Biden and Obama. Besides, remember, this is the fantasy Obama fans have been hoping for. So, unless they are going kill Obama off early and deify him and have him come back as a god to rule Earth, he doesn’t die off this early.
Of course, this being liberal publishing with their love affair for Obama, that might not be far off.
“Unencumbered by his dead-weight loser vice president, 44 was on the vacation to end all vacations.”
Well, I can agree with the author about the “dead-weight loser vice president”.
“Barack even had the gall to tell People magazine that we still went golfing together on occasion. To save face, I repeated the lie. The truth was, there hadn’t been any golf outings. No late-night texting. Not even a friendly poke on Facebook.”
Pardon me while I laugh. We know, probably, that the narrator is Biden. But,damn, that last passage sounds like a pouting teen girl who wasn’t asked out on a second date. Still, that could be the former VP. He’s gotten the whine down pretty good over the years.
Without quoting, because I frankly don’t have the stomach for it, at this point in the chapter, Biden’s sitting in his office and it’s getting dark. He glances outside and sees an orange pinprick of light. It doesn’t take him long to figure out it might just be a cigarette. So, talking to his dog, he goes to his safe where there are only two items: his Medal of Freedom and the Sig Saur he bought himself over his wife’s objections.
Once again, we go off into the land of make-believe. Biden takes the gun out of the safe, tucks it under the waistband of his slacks and pulls his Polo shirt over it. Think about that for a moment. He doesn’t check to see if there’s a round chambered. He doesn’t even check to see if the magazine is in place or if there is ammo in it. Then there’s the whole putting it in his waistband and pulling his shirt over it. Not only is he risking the Sig falling down his pants unless that waist band is pretty damned tight but how in the hell is he supposed to get to the gun quickly if he’s pulled the shirt over it?
Well, no one ever accused Biden of being the sharpest tack.
I know this is fiction but, again, damn. If you are home at night with your wife and you suspect there might be a prowler—or worse—outside, do you go out without letting your wife know and suggesting she call 911? Well, our daunting narrator does just that. He calls out to Jill, who is in another room watching TV, that he’s going to walk the dog. That’s it.
Oh, and where the HELL is his common sense?
Assuming he ever had any, the author divested Biden of it in this book.
It keeps getting better—or worse, depending on your point of view. The dog races outside but the motion detector light doesn’t come on. It’s burned out. The bulb is old and old bulbs are supposed to burn out. Yes, we actually get told that in the book.
Now, if this was a mystery and the narrator was female, I’d be saying she was too dumb to live. I’m screaming it right now at this noir wannabe. So far, the only thing separating this book from the slasher movies of the 1980’s is for our narrator to go running into the woods in high heels.
And we finally get the answer to where Biden’s security is. Our intrepid narrator comes upon a “vertically challenged man”. Then good ole Joe identifies him as Secret Service. Except then we’re told his detail had been dismissed several weeks before the opening of the book. So why is there a Secret Service agent on-scene, much less one lying flat out on the ground?
Instead of asking, instead of wanting to see ID, our narrator comments on how it’s a nice night for a walk and keeps walking. Worse, he walks in the direction the man he assumes is Secret Service indicates.
And there, deeper in the woods, he hears flint striking metal and instantly identifies it as a lighter. A moment later, he finds himself face-to-face with his good buddy (yes, I use that term loosely based on poor ole Joe’s whine earlier) BHO. An Obama who, even though they are in the trees/woods, is dressed in a “black hand-tailored suit” with his white shirt unbuttoned at the collar.
The chapter ends by telling us BHO is never in a hurry. I guess we’re supposed to be intrigued enough to keep us reading. Since I’m not one of those liberals dreaming of an Obama/Biden superhero team, the best I can say about it is my eyes aren’t bleeding—yet. My blood pressure isn’t soaring. This is fiction, after all, and not the actual writings of either Obama or Biden. But damn, this book is bad. Worse, it is bad in that train wreck sort of way. You know you shouldn’t read more but you can’t help it. You have to see if it gets any worse.
All I know for certain is I want to know what the author was smoking, drinking, snorting, whatever, as he wrote it. I’m not sure if I want some of it or if I want to make sure to avoid it at all cost.
Featured image: Victory Girls Artwork: Darleen Click, book cover via author’s website.
An earlier version of this commentary appeared on According to Hoyt.