Book Review: Impala by Andrew Diamond

ImpalaImpala by Andrew Diamond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s always a good sign when I can’t stop reading. Well, a good sign for the book, but a bad one for my own schedule. That is what happened with Impala. I started reading it yesterday afternoon, stayed up late, and then started right back up this morning–in spite of the many things I was supposed to do…

I have to admit the book was so good it actually surprised me. (And I’m sure I’ll take a lot of flack for the next few sentences…) I don’t usually read indy authors just because it is so hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. But I took a chance on this book because the blurb was well-written. Well, so was the whole book. Just on a technical level alone it was clean and I didn’t spot a single typo. Or maybe I didn’t spot any because I was too riveted by the story to notice or care. Either way. . .

Anyhow, this is Diamond’s second book so I always like to provide some comparisons when I’m reviewing a relatively new author. The first 2/3s of the book, especially, reminded me of some of my favorites: Palahniuk, Gischler, Neil Stephenson, and even a little of Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko. Yes, I thought Impala was THAT twisted, hip, smart, clever, funny, and readable.

Over and over and over I laughed out loud– the bicycle scene and “Who Killed the Mockingbird” being two of my favorites. Mixed in with all the humor was some truly beautiful prose–Mr. Diamond does an excellent job of painting pictures with words.

I also greatly enjoyed the entertaining lessons on programming and hacking, not that I could follow a lot of it (reminded me of Stephenson’s discussions of high tech-ery and The Calculus in Cryptonomicon). So, it’s not too bad when you can amuse a technical incompetent with computer-speak.

Russ is the main character and we see things from his POV. Ah. Russ, Russ, Russ. Where do I start with Russ? He is, as my mother used to say, his own worst enemy. He is clever, funny, thoughtful, and often a jerk. However, Russ and I share one important characteristic: he HATES discourtesy. Yes, and he does something about it, too…

Russ’s unwillingness to give ground even when faced with guns and muscle-bound goons reminded me of Arkady Renko, another guy who is his own worst enemy. Like Renko, Russ does not always choose the path of least resistance. Or even a path at all. And boy, does Russ take some beatings for his decisions. Seriously, I felt as if somebody had beaten ME at certain points in the book.

Two of my favorite parts of the book were Russ’s internal monologues (love his chats with the FBI) and his ability to turn his scorching IQ on himself from time to time. He knows he has the makings of a very bad man, but he isn’t going to submit to that side of himself without a struggle.

It really is hard to put the book down because there is always something going on. It’s often difficult to know where things are going next because Russ is out of control. Which makes it exciting. And fun.

I would ding this book half a star for length because I thought it could have been longer. I would have LIKED to read more, especially when it came to the events of the last 1/4 of the book. But because it hardly seems fair to drop a rating a full star because you liked the writing so much you want more, I’ve given Mr. Diamond the full 5.

This book was a blast and I’d read another by this author in a heartbeat.

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