Literature is occasionally derided as being a slow and ponderous gait through a persons imagination when compared to the pace and action seen in television and film. However those who think so should pick up this book by Kieran Shea at their earliest opportunity. Koko’s debut adventure combines gun toting ladies, sadistic CEOs and manic depressive law men in a hyper violent haze that had us powering through to the explosive conclusion.
The story follows the title character Koko, a former corporate mercenary turned brothel madam in the man made Sixty Islands. Koko’s life might seem idyllic at first – however, it soon becomes apparent that she knows too much and she becomes a target of her employer Portia Delacompte forcing her to go on the run from a trio of exotic female mercenaries. Now Koko needs to evade her enemies while deciding whether to run for the rest of her life, or take the fight to Delacompte in a final showdown.
As a storyline we did like what we saw in Koko Takes a Holiday. The characters were cut from a familiar kind of cloth and we were able to draw parallels to films such as Kill Bill and video games such as Deus Ex. Indeed considering the fan followings to both these titles we can see there being a great fan base ready and waiting for a book like this. That said we were a little sad to see that Shea doesn’t really force his book to find its own real identity which was lost amidst the bloody gore of it all. At it’s heart the book is meant to be a light hearted story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but this came to become a weakness as it made even the most intense moments feel a little too light. There are exceptions, indeed the conclusion to the story carries a certain kind of gravitas which certainly had us doing a double take, but it felt like we should be seeing more from a story like this.
Theme wise we were impressed by the decision to stick to the violent nature of the story. It had us thinking fondly of Kill Bill, but also had us vaguely remembering the likes of Watchmen and Sin City. There is gore and claret everywhere in Koko Takes a Holiday and it eventually came to become a surprisingly addictive quality to the book. However, we were shocked by how little human life is treated in the story making every character feel expendable and prone to being violently dispatched. There was also a sense of a post apocalyptic world that is on the mend so created a sense of overall lawlessness and viciousness which helps add an organic feel to the setting as well. Ultimately though this came across as style winning over substance and can leave a reader with only a thin veneer of story to follow.
Looking at the characters we could guess that we weren’t going to be getting the most three dimensional entities in literature. Koko is a snarky survivor, and her eventual compatriot Flynn is a similarly snarky law man with a chronic mental disorder. Beyond these specific attributes the cast of the book don’t really open up to reveal anything more about themselves meaning what you see is very much what you get. While some might think this is refreshing it might leave some other readers wanting something with a bit more substance.
In all honesty Koko Takes a Holiday is a fun albeit breezy literary action-adventure gore fest. This works at times and can help carry it but we can’t deny there are moments that come across as being a little ropey. As we read through the book we were reminded of certain kinds of anime and felt that this is one of those books that could fit that mould very well. It is very much about the style and the look of the piece instead of really opening up and examining the world behind the characters main drives. Altogether we found ourselves liking it as a decent diversion but we hope to see a little more with Kieran Shea’s next book and Koko’s next outing.
Koko Takes a Holiday is available from Amazon and the iTunes Store