In Cheung’s novel, a man’s boring life is interrupted by a gang of immortal bounty hunters trying to take his soul.
Every day, Leon Zylo, “gets off work feeling a little more dead than the day before.” Even his beautiful, loving girlfriend, Rachel, and the tantalizing sights and sounds of Fortune City, the sprawling “megatropolis” where he lives, aren’t enough to combat the apathy brought on by his boring office job. One day, he’s awakened from his lethargic existence by loud bangs at his door. A stylish man named Kitsune informs him that he’s been “contracted.” A gang of “Baya,” known as the Immortal Aces, will be coming to kill him in 24 hours: “The last day of your life starts after the next sixty seconds,” Kitsune says. Leon receives an official-looking contract that explains the rules, but it doesn’t reveal what a Baya is or why this is all happening. He largely ignores it, and the next day, he finds himself the prey of a pack of “[s]ome super invincible league of assassins who dress like pompous jerks.” He struggles through daring street chases, hops on roofs, and evades his pursuers on speeding trains before realizing that the bounty they seek is more than his life itself—it is his very soul. Soon, even more dangerous hunters are drawn into the chase, and Leon makes a daring choice that leads him to the truth about the Baya and their mysterious powers. Cheung’s prose is reminiscent of a comic book: short, punchy sentences propel exciting moments of action and complement his amusing, pun-filled dialogue. The clever conceit at this thrill ride’s core—that the more Leon tries to stay alive, the more valuable his life becomes—turns the cat-and-mouse game into a concise metaphor for urban ennui. However, halfway through, Cheung boldly goes in a surprising new direction, developing the lore of the Baya and leaving behind some of the more intriguing and universal elements. The author continues to maintain an exciting pace, but something special gets lost when he delves too deep into the fantasy.
A fast-paced adventure that will excite lovers of anime and comics, but one that trades wider appeal for complex mythology.