Ed is at the end of his rope - a bit of an asshole, frustrated by the dead-end rut his life has fallen into, and trapped by debt and a loveless marriage. He makes the decision to walk away from it all, to trade his home and wife for a life of homelessness and freedom. What initially sounds like a glorified camping trip, minus even those simple luxuries of a vacation spent roughing it, ends with Ed directly involved in an alien overthrow of Earth. Led by Dahl, the human-looking invaders have gone planet to planet, freeing the local populations from the tyranny of oppressive capitalism. As the title might indicate, the aliens have a little bit more in store for Earth's 1%. Freeing humanity from the scourge of inequality is great and all, but even more important is the simple fact that rich people taste delicious.
Eat the Rich isn't quite the in-your-face work of message fiction I was expecting, and even mildly wanting, and while there is some exploration of the good and bad in contemporary capitalism Renee Miller is more focused on delivering a work of super-fun alien pulp horror. Economic politics may be the instigating premise behind Eat the Rich, but Miller is careful not to pound readers over the head with her personal opinions as she explores the ways in which certain ideas may appear superficially attractive but can quickly descend into madness. The denouement is very much a 'be careful what you wish for,' particularly in terms of utopian fantasy, let alone one involving life under extraterrestrial rule.
Of course, any kind of politics in fiction is too much for some reader's to handle, but if one were that worried about confronting opposing viewpoints or afraid of encountering even fictional liberal or conservative values in the first place, you probably wouldn't be looking at a book entitled Eat the Rich lest you're deliberately attempting to offend your own delicate sensibilities. And in which case, you probably shouldn't be reading horror or science fiction in the first place, both of which genres are present in this book in spades.
On the other hand, you have at least come this far in considering Eat the Rich, even if only superficially, and either have some kind of backbone, decent taste in fiction, and are either a cannibal or have a serious axe to grind, and so I encourage you to give it a read. It's fun, schlocky, gory entertainment, with sparse prose that makes for an easy breezy read. I quite enjoyed reading about Ed's encounters with various aliens, the police detective Marin, who is charged with investigating the murders of local elites, and the quisling Gopher who hesitatingly introduces Ed to Dahl. The relationship between Ed and Dahl, in fact, is reason enough to check out Eat the Rich and provides an interesting bit of meat and particular complications as the narrative progresses.
If I have any complaint about Miller's story, it's that it moves a bit too fast, with certain big acts getting glossed over. Some aspects of the alien invasion are told through second-hand sources, like news reports and characters telling other characters about things that occurred off-page. I would have preferred Miller to write about such instances directly, giving them a bit more prominence and a wider stage to play out on. On the whole, this is a fairly minor quibble, but it would have been nice to get some more face-eating action on page.
What action does make it to the page, though, and there is plenty, is highly entertaining. Eat the Rich is more Mars Attacks than in terms of alien invasion concepts, and Miller's focus is more on fun than extrapolations of sociopolitical dynamics. This isn't a book that will change the world, and maybe that's a good thing. After all, one person's utopia is another's dystopian nightmare.
[Note: I received an advanced print copy of this title from the publisher, Hindered Souls Press. It came delivered in a biohazard specimen bag, as somebody at this small press publisher is clearly a marketing genius. Alas, no bones or tissue samples were included.]
No rich people were harmed in the writing of this review.
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