Seriously hard. Telling a joke is hard. Writing a joke is harder. Writing a book with lots of jokes seems to be hardest. So, it should be no great shock that this book is, as all of the genre are, uneven. Funny, then not.
Well, mostly funny then not, then funny again. With not much in the way of other emotions on display.
Death by Cliche is a bit of a hard one to describe without any spoilers – this being the logical result of putting a major plot point in the very beginning of the book. Then following it with some other major points. Since there is no way to do this, I’ll let Amazon’s blurb do it for me. See, totally not ME spoiling the big plot point in the beginning. Blame Bezos.
To Sartre, Hell was other people. To the game designer, Hell is the game.
Damico writes games for a living. When called in to rescue a local roleplaying game demo, Damico is shot in the head by a loony fan. He awakens in a game. A game full of hackneyed tropes and clichéd plots. A game he was there to save, run by the man who murdered him just moments ago. A game that has just become world-swap fantasy. Damico, to his horror, has become the heart of the cliché.
Set on their quest in a scene that would make Ed Wood blush, Damico discovers a new wrinkle. As a game designer, he is a creative force in this broken place. His presence touches the two-dimensional inhabitants. First a peasant, then a barmaid, then his character’s own father…all come alive.
But the central question remains. Can Damico escape, or is he trapped in this nightmare? Forever.
Wait, what? This is a comedy? Ignore all that. Death by Cliché is a heartwarming tale of catastrophic brain damage. Share it with someone you love. Or like. Or anyone at all. Buy the book.
Based on a true story.
And there it is. The book takes place after the main character is killed. Usually, this means zombies. Or vampires. Not so here! This takes place wholly in (one assumes) Damico’s mind. Which lends itself to some interesting perspective on the gaming hobby, and the tendencies of gamers to phase in and out of character, and bleed real world thing into an otherwise pure fantasy experience. And this is where the book both succeeds and fails. It is easy to pick the low fruit of gamer cliche, harder to apply that to a larger plot, and harder still when the decision to cram as many jokes as possible into the space is made. The result, then, is a book with lots of humor, but a need to space things better, and maybe draw it out more. Take the one book, and make it two or three, and you have more time to explore all the repercussions of Damico’s influence on the world – more time to build to the absurdly (intentionally, of course) cliche set of reveals.
Overall, this works. I think that anything that uses too much humor where the author is obviously feeling pleased with themselves has issues, but Death by Cliche does manage to largely overcome them.