Look. I’ll be honest. This is one hell of a premise.
Intrigued? Yeah, well. It doesn’t end there.
I tried coming up with an appropriate expression to mirror how The Yeti feels about John Layman’s Chew, but it was part how-on-earth-did-he-come-up-with-half-this-stuff-?! and part no-no-no-I-don’t-want-to-turn-the-page and part but-he-could-have-done-SO-much-more-with-this-! and part grinning like an idiot.
Even now, reviewing it months after I finished reading it (well, the first six volumes, anyway), I don’t know if I want to thrust this at everyone I meet and see what they make of it, or be disappointed that the series fell short of my expectations of the premise.
Tony Chu is a detective, see? So he goes around doing detective-y things and from time to time, they..um..reach a dead end in the investigation. Now, normal detectives would give up and go home for the day, or go back and see if they’ve missed anything or done, you know. Whatever. But not Tony Chu. Oh, no. He’s got Cibopathy going for him, the poor guy. All he needs is a little..taste.
I don’t know how they did it, but Layman and Rob Guillory (the illustrator) manage to find a balance between grossing you out and making you laugh until your sides hurt. There’s creative-swearing aplenty, and the Government decreeing a Poultry Prohibition, and a bionic sidekick and a weird creepy tentacled plant that seems to give a lot of people the heebie-jeebies, and vampires that are not really vampires but might be vampires but then again might not be..you know. All that usual stuff.
I feel like I should probably explain why I gave these books such a low rating on Goodreads. Looking back, I remember feeling bitterly disappointed. I remember waiting and waiting and waiting for Chew to just blow my brains out and leave them splattered on the wall. It easily could have, and I think that’s is why I ended up being extra harsh when it came to rating it. I felt mildly cheated.
That said, I’d still recommend Chew. Because a book that makes you slightly uncomfortable and manages to make you laugh in the same breath is always a plus in my eyes, and also for the characters Layman litters these books with. I don’t want to spoil their introductions for you, because almost all of them made me chuckle, but my favourite – my absolute favourite – was Poyo.
Poyo was exposed to a near-lethal amount of radiation as an egg, during the first stages of a government experiment to create mutant super soldiers–trained in exotic martial arts technique by Tibetan Kung Fu fightin’ monks–and given strange bio-enhancements during a rash of farm animal abductions by extra-terrestrials. Nah, just kidding. None of that shit is true. Poyo is just really, really badass.”
And guess. Just guess what Poyo is.
Nope. Guess again.
He’s a chicken. A badass ninja chicken.