Review: A Perfect Machine by Brett Savory

A Perfect Machine
By Brett Savory
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I had two concurrent thoughts upon finishing this book. 1) That was a shit ending. 2) I wasted six days reading this thing? Honestly, I should have DNF'd this quite a while back as it was becoming clear the book just was not working for me, a feeling that grew all the stronger by the 85% mark, but by then I figured I may as well finish it. This was a poor choice, as it became awfully clear that Brett Savory had no idea how to end this book and I would have been better off setting the book down earlier and making up my own story.

Typically, I don't need all of the answers for every question raised. The biggest problem with A Perfect Machine is that these questions never rose past a blatant insert here because it soundscool.

There's a secret society of Hunters and Runners. They pursue each other through the streets, maiming and shooting, but rarely killing, one another. The lead that gets pumped into them becomes a permanent part of their bodies, which they hope will allow them achieve ascendency and become metal gods. Or at least that's what the readers are told. The characters themselves actually have no idea what happens when their body becomes full of bullets, but they play along with game anyway. If they don't, people they know start disappearing.

Who's responsible for their disappearances? The characters don't know, I don't know, and neither does Savory. This secret group has been operating like this for a century, but there's only been one prior incident of 100% metallization prior to Henry Kyllo, and that's pretty recent history at that. Before then, there's apparently no history of this ascendancy occurring, but they do it anyway just because. What reason do they have to believe in ascendancy? They don't, and Savory doesn't care to give them a reason, because he probably doesn't know or care either. People who come into contact with the Hunters and Runners quickly forget ever seeing them. Why? Just because. And no matter how much damage they inflict on one another, they bounce right back and completely heal within a matter of hours. Why? Just because. Oh yeah, and there's a couple ghosts running around town. Just because. Look - using "just because" as an answer stopped working on me quite a long, long, long time ago. I need more than that to go on, if your entire story hangs around the frame of "just because?" Yeah, no. That's not going to work for me. At all. And when you give ghosts, robots, secret societies, mayhem, and then completely cop out on the ending? Well, then you've just pissed me off.

Anyway, Kyllo has apparently been shot so many times, his body is now completely lead. So he starts growing into a giant killer machine. Sort of like The Incredible Hulk meets Transformers, but not nearly half as good as either of those properties. And the ghosts are trying to help him reach his final stage of evolution, which in itself is just another convoluted mess of a subplot. In fact, there's a couple other subplots running throughout the narrative, each of which ends in variously disappointing ways and could have been stripped out of the book entirely with little to no impact.

Pointlessness seems to be the primary theme of this book. And also "because."

On the bright side, that cover art is freaking perfect and on-point. I love the cover art. Angry Robot's designers did a stupendous job making this book look a thousand times better and more interesting than it really is. The art is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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