DRS’ debut presents two modern pulp-style thriller novelettes in a single package.
With whip-smart dialogue and pointed, purposeful narration, “Hot Midnight” tells the story of Sam, an attractive female college student who’s unknowingly being stalked by a leather-clad madman. This seemingly unstoppable executioner works from the shadows, picking off the men in Sam’s life as he seeks to literally devour the object of his obsession. “Youth Reform” puts the energy of a traditional thriller into worldbuilding, crafting a totalitarian America that sees mild delinquency as a threat, throwing Dakota-Leigh, a pretty Southern gal who just wanted to skip class and smoke a little marijuana, into an Orwellian re-education center. There, she allies herself with Kenneth, a clever, street-smart young man with plans to escape—but he has a past that will soon have her running from more than just an authoritarian regime. Typos and grammatical errors litter both novelettes, which makes their composition feel as rushed as their plots. Both stories rely heavily on the theme of pursuit; “Hot Midnight” has the protagonist unaware of the danger circling her, while “Youth Reform” presents an anxiety-fueled road story as enemies nip at the main characters’ heels. In both, style trumps substance or suspense, with “Hot Midnight” particularly relying on gratuitous, sexualized carnage for titillation and spectacle. The other novelette’s dialogue and narration aren’t as focused, but its modernized anti-youth movement is much more compelling, with the cunning Kenneth’s Elvis-esque hair and presumptuous swagger challenging both his adult oppressors and adulthood itself. Its themes of oppression are reminiscent of those that 1950s pulps themselves faced.
Pure pulp novelettes that are exciting for as long as they last.