Half-Resurrection Blues is about a half-dead hitman working for entirely dead guys to keep the balance of life and death in check. I'm not usually all..Show More » that into urban fantasy, but after reading Half-Resurrection Blues, I wonder if that's because I've rarely seen any author write about a city half so well as Older writes about Brooklyn. I learned (after reading it) that he'd been a community organizer, and those roots show. He knows people are and what they're up to and what they care about, and all those details make Brooklyn come to life on the page. It's fantastic.
It's also funny. Really, really funny. For example, early on, the narrator and protagonist, Carlos, meets another half-dead guy for the first time in his life, and it is not exactly the joy he would have expected:
/“Whaddup, douche bags and douche baguettes?” [Trevor] hollers at the crowd. I’m mortified and fascinated at the same time. A few passing revelers chuckle but most ignore him. A blond lady rolls her eyes as if she’s being hit on for like the four hundredth time tonight. “Why so serious?” Trevor yells into the sky. I found the one other being like me in the universe and he is a total jackass./
On that point, Older has the comic timing of his narrator down, and it's worth listening to the book for that alone. (I kept walking over to the next room to make my girlfriend listen to choice lines.) He's also just downright pleasant to listen to. My only complaint is the voice acting when one of the female characters is crying. High-pitched, fake-crying voice is a bit of a twitch for me. Thankfully, that's only a small part.
The other interesting thing about this book is how well Older writes male characters. Carlos and his buddies playing off of each other are great, and Older's awareness of how men interact with women (and why) was also fascinating (and appalling). Carlos does not make the best choices about how he conducts his relationships, which was actually cool to read, since the narrative does not support his choices (pointedly) but also does not demonize them.
Anyway, this is a great book. It's got a lot of depth while remaining a fun read. Highly recommend.
I really dug Older's first book in the Bone Street Rumba series, Half Resurrection Blues, when it came out at the beginning of 2015, and am enjoying t..Show More »his second installment just as much. The author is an interesting character himself, until 2014 an EMT by day, and a musician and author by night. His musical side comes out in a lot of his prose, which is very attuned to the sounds of NYC, where the Bone Street Rumba books take place. These two books, along with Salsa Nocturna, his first collection of short stories, introduce many wonderful characters in Brooklyn, "civilian" and supernatural, primarily Carlos Delacruz, an agent for the Council of the Dead, and himself an in-betweener, half dead and half alive. The second character that comes to life in a great deal more detail in this book is Kia, a teenage girl who, against her will, is becoming all too deeply involved in Carlos' supernatural world. Although Carlos was the narrator for the entirety of H-R Blues, Older has chosen to structure this second book by alternating the first person narration of each chapter; thus, Carlos narrates one chapter, Kia the next, and so on. It's a really interesting mode of storytelling, and Older is satisfyingly believable, in both his writing and his spoken narration, in both these voices. Unlike the majority of books in the urban fantasy world, most of the characters in The Bone Street Rumba 'verse are men and women of color, a beautiful and rich layer to Older's already imaginative and cool storytelling. There are many beautifully drawn characters, wonderful comedic moments, great action, some creepy scary stuff, some lovely sweet moments, and a few awesome monologues of just plain philosophizing. Bonus; the author himself reads his works and is a terrific narrator, giving each character a very specific sound. He's quite good and makes the listening experience super enjoyable. There's some language, nothing terribly rough, a few f-words, but it is, nonetheless, a story with some sweetness at its heart. The hero and the people he is surrounded by are good, kind, and funny. If you want to start at the very beginning, start with Salsa Nocturna, a nice introduction to the Bone Street Rumba 'verse, then dig right in. If you're a fan of urban fantasy, I know you'll enjoy it.