Jumbled Marionette Strings by August Hock

Jumbled Marionette Strings

KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut novel about psychedelic adventures, corporate control and other disparate oddities.

James, a clever freshman at Stanford University, strikes up a curious relationship with Yost, his anatomy professor, after he asks to borrow a textbook from him. It turns out that Yost is no ordinary college professor—he’s a mastermind of homegrown drug use with plans to take James to the far outer reaches of consciousness. Their relationship turns into a full-blown mentorship, as Yost teaches James about psychedelic experiences and the powers that influence the Earth. Meanwhile, Scott Gabriel, after spending time in the U.S. Army, decides to join the Secret Service. Protecting the president seems like a noble calling, until he discovers that the service doesn’t exactly protect the president—it keeps him captive. As James and Scott each navigate their increasingly strange worlds, a potential World War III looms in Brazil, and a company called Mindtec creates an innovative new product—a chip that that can be inserted directly into customers’ brains through their noses. As the title suggests, the book’s plot is indeed jumbled and also includes murderous businessmen, a somewhat magical cow named Electra, and the U.S. government’s plans for a coast-to-coast high-speed railway. All these far-out subjects together can be disorienting, but the plot never suffers from a lack of inventiveness; instead, what makes the story difficult to follow is its lack of endearing characters. In particular, readers may have difficulty finding any real human interest in James and Yost’s strange teacher-pupil relationship. Yost, while eccentric, isn’t a very compelling character, and James’ dialogue often comes off as flat and unengaging.

A whirlwind story that explores a variety of intriguing concepts but lacks sympathetic characters.     

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 2013
Page count: 241pp
Publisher: Barnburner Books, LLC
Program: Kirkus Indie
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