Review: Unamerica by Cody Goodfellow

Unamerica by Cody Goodfellow
King Shot Press (June 2019)
448 pages; $14.99 paperback
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Weird fiction is making a massive comeback. Several authors are breaking out of a box they never felt comfortable being trapped in. Cody Goodfellow has never fit in any box. He can nail commercial fiction, straight up horror and other genres with ease, and has done so several years.

Now he’s released Unamerica. What is this? Any reviewer even attempting to summarize the plot in a few short paragraphs would likely fall short, so why bother? This is a novel that needs to be experienced. It reads like the lovechild of William Gibson, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jeff Vandermeer. If that sounds like an odd offspring, keep reading. It gets better

Nolan Hatch, an intriguing protagonist, bikes across America carrying a mushroom drug that allows him to see God…kind of. When he’s arrested and tossed into the strange titular city, he discovers a place where capitalism has run amok. To get a good idea of what it’s about, think Idiocracy crossed with Ready Player One, with Philip K. Dick on a bad trip. That’s a very, very cool thing.

When Orrin Litchfield steps in to take power, readers learn about his fanaticism. A man who’s Christian and a former abortionist now suddenly heals the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, and is infected by his power.

To explain further would be a massive disservice to Goodfellow’s novel. The twists and turns would confuse anyone expecting the normal, and are equally entrancing and frustrating at times, but ultimately exhilarating. This is a story that encapsulates our modern country; the good, the bad, and the horribly screwed up. It’s almost as if he gazed into his crystal ball and saw the past two years coming,  the infection growing and seething. This is a treatise on the dangers of society, overreach of corporate greed and everything else.

Grab hold of the covers and dive in. If this review appears coy, it’s not. The contents within Unamerica are nearly impossible to synthesize into a happy little soundbite. But it’s worth the wild ride. Recommended for any fans of the weird, wild, or those who can look into the dark, splintered mirror that faces us every day on the news and beneath it.

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