Apr 152014

Cover of Koko Takes a Holiday by Kiernan Shea. A badass woman with short, electric blue hair and white face/ black lips/ eyeliner goth make-up stands almost profile but looking at us. She's dressed from neck to wrists in a tight-fitting, futurist-looking black outfit, with an enormous, vivid-yellow and black gun slung on her shoulder like she's about to swing it around and shoot. The background is white and red stripes with action scenes illustrated in black and yellow ink in the red stripes.Booklist: Great fun and a fine introduction to an author with a distinctive voice. Expect more from Shea, perhaps in multiple genres. Set five centuries into the future, this debut novel begins in a resort complex called The Sixty Islands, where elite brothel owner Koko Martstellar narrowly escapes an assassination attempt. Fleeing to the orbital community known as the Second Free Zone, Koko is astonished to learn that her old friend, Portia Delacompte, is behind the assassination. And while Koko is trying to figure that out, Portia is trying to figure out something just as baffling: Why did she order the death of her friend (her memories concerning the hired hit seem to have vanished). This futuristic wild ride starts out quickly and doesn’t really slow down until it’s over. You would think such a breakneck pace wouldn’t leave much time for character development, but you’d be wrong; Shea skillfully weaves characterization into dialogue and into the thoughts and actions of the people in the novel. The use of the present tense certainly helps make the story feel urgent and immediate, too: we get caught up in Koko’s predicament and are carried along with her as she desperately tries to keep herself alive until she can track down her would-be assassin.