Review: Enormity by W.G. Marshall

Monday, April 27, 2015

Title: Enormity
Author: W.G. Marshall
Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 280 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: February 6 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2/5

ENORMITY is the strange tale of an American working in Korea, a lonely young man named Manny Lopes, who is not only physically small (in his own words, he's a "Creole shrimp"), but his work, his failed marriage, his race, all conspire to make him feel puny and insignificant - the proverbial ninety-eight-pound weakling.

Then one day an accident happens, a quantum explosion, and suddenly little Manny is big - really big. In fact, Manny is enormous, a mile-high colossus! Now there's no stopping him: he's a one-man weapon of mass destruction. Yet he means well.

ENORMITY takes some strange turns, featuring characters like surfing gangbangers, elderly terrorists, and a North Korean assassin who thinks she's Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. There's also sex, violence, and action galore, with Manny battling the forces that seek to seduce or destroy him. 

Straight out: this is a weird book - as you can tell from the blurb but those last two sentences are really the only clues for what a crazy mix of weird, uncomfortable and gross this novel can be and often is. There's definitely a lot of imagination at play in this tale of a quantum mishap and a Creole who suffers from a massive height complex, but unfortunately, a lot of the possibilities here are unexplored, unexplained or just beyond nasty. This wasn't necessarily a book that I wanted to finish; it was a fight for me especially towards the end. I knew by page 150 that we weren't exactly going to see eye-to-eye, Enormity and myself, but it's like a giant car collision - you just can't look away from all the gruesome horror and body parts. I'm not a huge fan of gross-out humor or fiction and this book just went way beyond what I felt was necessary in regards to bodily fuctions, fluids, and suchlike to the detriment of any originality or humor that may have been present.

I'm not a prude by any meas but this book made me squirm uncomfortably. Sure when two humans are quantum'ed into giants, their respective parts would be as well. But repeatedly focusing on them was just distasteful to me as a reader and left open and ignored many possibilities for a stronger novel; focusing on the social commentary/global repercussions of two uncontrollable giants would've been far more interesting. I don't know if other readers will have issues with things like Manny's giant penis ("as long and broad as the Hindenburg") ripping through his pants. I just.. don't know. I never thought I'd have to write - or read - a sentence like that in a book. The fixation on sex, penises, vaginas and such just felt crude, unnecessary and immature -  for Manny as a regular person, as giant and as well for the people who have sex in Manny's ear. Outside of the reproduction-fixation of the main characters, there's also things like giant bugs, flesh-eating parasites and beheadings by giant, metallic bee-things. Enormity is, quite simply, over the top and it just didn't work for me.

I also had issues with the style of the story at times. Though this is a darkly "humorous" story about monsters, there is a correspondingly large element of military and military operations key to the plot. What would've vastly helped my understanding of exactly what was going on behind the scenes is if more than half the acronyms tossed about were actually explained. It's annoying and distracting for non-military personnel to try and decode all the shortened names used by the characters and narrators. Who knows thought - my disconnect from any involvement could be entirely due to the flat, bland and frustrating characters. Manny at least provides an interesting and different viewpoint 6000 feet into the atmosphere, but that doesn't make this self-pitying and self-involved Creole any more likeable. The other characters - Karen, Queen - also felt cookie-cutter and undeveloped. I don't even want to get into how unauthentic and weirdly timed their sexual escapdes were - let's just say they were an obvious ploy for drama in the story as well as lacking any chemistry or reason for their actions.

So much of this just felt shoehorned in or randomly tacked on - the dwarven village? The abovementioned gang-banger surfers? I couldn't connect to the story, the characters, the ideas here. Nothing, even outside of the acronyms, is explained enough to make sense. What happened to the "spider-thing" at the top of Manny's head that was killing Queen's men? If the quantum bullshizz was supposed to create a mini-blackhole, how exactly were Manny and Yoon-sook turned into giants instead? All in all, this just wasn't for me. I should've thrown in the towel in the first two nonsensical and random chapters. A very frustrating and unrewarding read for yours truly - others might try this one and I wish them well of it. Just be prepared for a lot of nasty/fascinating/immature turns.

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