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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review: The Morbidly Obese Ninja by Carlton Mellick III (Bizarro genre)

The Morbidly Obese Ninja
By: Carlton Mellick III

Paperback, 92 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Eraserhead Press
ISBN 1936383578 (ISBN13: 9781936383573) 

These days, if you want to run a successful company . . . you're going to need a lot of ninjas. Neo Tokyo, California is a city built so high that none of its residents have ever seen the ground. It is a place where citizens cosmetically alter their bodies to look like Japanese anime characters. It is a place where ninja battles determine the fate of corporate business ventures. It is the home of Basu - a 700 pound killing machine who uses his grotesque excess weight as a deadly weapon. In this city, there is no ninja more deadly than Basu. He's well-trained, well-armed, and well-fed. And if you work for one of his competitors, he's coming to kill you. The Morbidly Obese Ninja is like anime in written form. Dark, funny, violent, and subtly disturbing. From the award-winning author of Warrior Wolf Women of the Wasteland, The Haunted Vagina, and Satan Burger.
The Morbidly Obese Ninja was the first Bizarro book I had ever read, and it was a great intro to the genre. It has everything you look for when picking out a Bizarro book: absurdity, satire, and gore. I mean come on…it’s called The Morbidly Obese Ninja. You can’t get much more left field than that! I love a story that can keep me entertained and at the same time leaving me with that WTF feeling.

The story revolves around a ninja who became morbidly obese named Basu. But these aren‘t the ninjas you are used to, these ninjas are corporate men. Basu has a straight-forward assignment…get The Piggy Bank. The Piggy Bank is an object you put information in to keep it safe from other corporations. It sounds extremely easy, especially for a trained ninja, but things go from good, too bad, too worse.

There are four main characters in the book: Basu- the morbidly obese ninja, Crow- Basu’s nemesis, Chiya- Computer Whiz/Basu’s “friend with benefits”, and Oki- The Piggy Bank. Mellick does a great job of giving you just enough back story on each character to make you care about them. He talks about Basu and Crow’s background. They were once the best of friends, but Crow isn’t happy living in Basu’s shadow and betrays his corporation and friend. Basu and Chiya’s relationship is complicated. Chiya is madly in love with Basu, but keeps getting shut down in her efforts to have Basu forsake his job and start a new life with her. Lastly, you get the relationship between Basu and Oki. Basu starts to question his “death before dishonor” attitude when he finds out what Oki is keeping inside of him.

Mellick’s style of writing is straight and to the point. I hate books that spend three pages describing the knot on a door. The book trucks along at a steady pace that keeps you wanting to find out the plot twists and/or ending. The action, gore, and satire are great. Mellick pokes fun at everything from obesity, to the need for the next best thing.

The opening fight scene is amazing. It has just enough gore and detail to keep you interested and wanting more of it. I mean who doesn’t love a main character that stops a katana with fat rolls?! The only bad thing I could find in the story was the section in which Basu has to stop and take a crap. It just felt like Mellick put it in there for an unnecessary gross factor. It didn’t add anything to the story and felt like an out of place fart joke.

I loved The Morbidly Obese Ninja! It made me cringe in disgust, gasp in shock, giggle like a little school girl, and made me become the lover of Bizarro that I am today. I would recommend this to all my friends. Especially, those who are curious about the genre and don’t want to dive straight into the extreme.

4.5 Sheep

Guest Reviewer: Jason

About the Author:
Like a real world Kilgore Trout, cult author CARLTON MELLICK III has been pumping out some of the weirdest, trashiest, most imaginative books that you’ll never want to admit you secretly love.

Best known as one of the leading authors of the bizarro fiction movement in literature, he is also one of the most prolific authors of his generation with over 40 books in print since 2001. He won the Wonderland Book Award for his novel “Warrior Wolf Women of the Wasteland” and has had short stories make it into The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade.

Although many of his earliest works are on the surreal and experimental side, his current style is to take the most ridiculous concepts imaginable and approach them with complete sincerity, as if they are not intended to be ridiculous at all. Always full of tongue-in-cheek humor, social satire, and told in a simplistic straightforward prose style similar to that of children’s literature or early pulp fiction, Carlton Mellick III’s work is one of a kind, to say the least.

He lives in Portland, OR, the bizarro mecca.