Clover imagines the combative contestants of a future reality show in this debut novel.
The year is 2056. Shots Fired in the Melting Pot is meant to be standard, 3-D hologram reality show fare, placing six unlikely roommates together in a New York penthouse to “illustrate ideological differences between passionate people.” The contestants include Litz Rack, a liberal and lascivious plumber with a checkered past; Richard Orton, the editor of Feature Films for Families and a token Republican; Jazzy Auburn Michelle, an extroverted yet insecure comedian; Fassim Johnson, a ruthless paparazzo with little concern for the privacy of others; Cody “CKB” Black, a career criminal with a knack for social media; and Stoney Akuda, a New York cop looking for a reason to deploy deadly force. They are competing for a cash prize, though each also conceals a personal agenda. Things start off with the expected barrage of trash talk and flirtation, but the situation quickly escalates as the producers throw new elements into the series in an attempt to raise the stakes even higher. With the increased spotlight, the personal histories of the contestants are drawn more and more into the mix, complicating their lives both on and off camera. It’s only a matter of time until real shots are fired and the inhabitants of the melting pot are forced to decide which of their rivals might prove most useful as partners. While the premise and futuristic setting offer the promise of satire and heightened high jinks, the novel is rather flat in its execution. Clover routinely overloads his sentences with description and exposition: “Litz noticed an intimate longing creeping across Richard’s adorable Scottish-American face as she finished listening to her voice mail with the stoicism of a true vixen.” The resulting prose is cumbersome and never fully immersive. The dialogue is not nearly as witty as the author wants it to be, and the plot developments feel more contrived as the story proceeds. A late twist doesn’t quite land, leaving the reader with a lingering sense of missed opportunity.
An intriguing tale involving reality show alliances that lacks a strong plot.