**I received a copy of Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja from Agent Sam Morgan in exchange for an honest review**
ANGELIC FECAL MATTER*, this book was awesome.
I first discovered this book was a thing when I saw it being advertised on Twitter by a few agents and writers I follow. I checked out the blurb and knew it was a book that I wanted to read. So when I got the book in the mail from Sam, as part of a care package of books to review, I was absolutely and totally stoked (as I hadn’t heard of most of the other books). Then, when I met the author Joe Zieja at WorldCon and he genuinely listened to me when I spoke with him for a few minutes about my own writing in-between panels, my respect went up even more (because how many authors do you meet in person who actually listen about your own projects and give you thoughtful responses?), which raised my excitement for this book even more. By the time I finally got around to picking up this and actually dived in, my expectations were higher than what I hold for most books and I knew I would be well impressed if it actually managed to match those expectations.
Spoiler: Mechanical Failure totally did.
It’s a science fiction comedy of errors that was refreshing and absolutely mental at the same time. The level of competent incompetence–I know, sounds crazy, but it was totally a thing–was an element I’ve never experienced in a book before and I had no idea how to tackle. In the end, I mostly just shook my head as Roger missed something obvious and laughed aloud at what resulted from the error.
I had the lovely coincidence to be reading this book whilst I decided to start replaying the Mass Effect video game series. Which, if you’re into video games, I think reading this while playing that is an absolute must, because the juxtaposition just levels up the natural hilarity within Mechanical Failure. If you’re familiar with the games, you’ll understand why. Mass Effect focuses on the life of Commander Shepard, first human Spectre, Commander in the Alliance and of the Normandy, and savior of not only the human race, but of all sentient beings in the galaxy. Her team is handpicked and highly trained. She is competent, charismatic, a mastermind killing machine and either respected or hated by the entire galaxy for her heroism, sacrifice and prowess.
Mechanical Failure features Sergeant R. Wilson Rogers.
Hint: he is nothing like Commander Shepard.
Rogers just wants to be a con man. He did his stint in the military and he is perfectly content to live out the rest of his days cheating pirates and ruining his liver, one Jasker 120 at a time. Of course, he doesn’t get what he wants and ends up serving back with the military. Except the military appears to be organized and mobilizing for war; a war that doesn’t exist. The longer Rogers stays aboard and serves on the Flagship, the more he realizes that what appears to be a functional military regime isn’t the case in the slightest. And it’s up to him to fix it while trying to uncover the actual threat that no one is prepared to fight, because they are too busy inaptly preparing for a war that isn’t happening.
The laughter that results, my friends, is real.
Of course, like any fantastic novel, the true gems are the characters and this cast is something special. My particular favorites included Deet, my favorite droid in the galaxy, for his attempts at humor, his odd humanity and his inability to scream EXPLETIVE. Hart for his poor cooking and spunk. Freakin’ Tunger, for reasons I cannot say, lest they spoil the book for you. Mailn, for additional reasons that I cannot say, due to additional spoils. Admiral Klein; again, shrouded in secrecy as to why, as to discourage spoilers (but I will give you a hint: it involves toast). And, of course, the Viking.
Holy Lord, did I freakin’ love the Viking.
I took my time reading Mechanical Failure because it was such a joy to read** and I often found myself reading it to escape from my current stresses in RL. Can’t afford paying my bills? Read about Rogers’ first meal back on the Flagship. Depression and anxiety taking some swings at me? Read about Rogers trying to function without gravity. Overwhelmed with stress and feeling like my life life is falling apart and I can’t keep up? Read about Rogers versus Barbor Bot.
This book is fantastic. It’s hilarious and the start of the Epic Failure trilogy, thankfully. I would not be content if this was a standalone. I couldn’t be more excited for when the next two books come out (hopefully sooner rather than later). But I’m particularly grateful for Mechanical Failure for being there for me to read and enjoy when my own life seemed impossible to deal with and reminding me that I can handle it, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Or at least it helping me put things in perspective.
At least I’m not stuck eating SEWR rats.
* If you have no idea what this is meant to mean, read Mechanical Failure and give Deet my fondest hello. You’ll understand. Or not, potentially. That’s the fun of it.
** It didn’t take me weeks to read because I often chose to play Mass Effect instead. No, that is definitely not the case….(thank goodness no droids are around me or they’d definitely be outputting CALL FUNCTION: EXPOSE LIES).