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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review: Valentine's Day + Special Surprise at the End!

Valentines Day: A Romantic ComedyTitle: Valentine's Day
Author: Lewis Faulkner
Page Count: 342 pages
Publisher: Xlibris
Genre: romantic comedy
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Valentine's Day--A Romantic Comedy is a funny, light-hearted look at love in the near-future, and a perfect holiday gift!

Imagine Robin Williams’ Bicentennial Man meets Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In a space station above the planet, Sirius—an old, reclusive, Leonardo da Vinci-type astronomer—is about to commit suicide, as well as end the ‘life’ of Comet, his android. Comet argues that he’s more than a machine. Comet believes that he’s sentient, with emotions and feelings even more mature than his master. Therefore, turning off Comet's circuits would be murder! To prove his sentience, Comet's goal becomes to strengthen the love of four specific couples on planet, and return to the space station, in ten hours, for a final evaluation. Success will prevent his master's suicide, as well as earn Comet his freedom.

On planet, as partners realign into mismatched relationships, Comet's plight looks hopeless.

Especially when Comet has to deal with characters like Auntie Elizabeth, an eighty-year-old Granny Clampet turned nymphomaniac. Stallion, a handsome, a la Cheers, Sam Malone. Fanny, a street-sharp punk, torn between her desire for fast-paced passion and fatherly commitment. Burgew and Pone, a pair of drunken gravediggers, who weigh in with more wit than an MTV version of Hamlet. A vat of middle-aged testosterone named Will, and his wife, the religiously conservative, yet sultry, Penelope, who are celebrating their twenty-third wedding anniversary.

Get ready for a sexual farce, a tender love story, and the hope surrounding second chances and the ability to change. Plus, that secretly-longed-for happy ending!
The best thing about summer vacation so far has been the chance to finally tackle my teetering piles of books to be read.  As I travel through the stacks, I find that there are lots of titles to which I haven't done justice by a long shot, and Valentine's Day is one of them.  I've had this title in the review queue for a long time- why I haven't gotten to it sooner, I simply don't know, but I'm glad I'm getting to it now!

Simply put, this is the story of one android's quest to prove his own sentience by furthering the cause of love on Earth.  His creator, Sirius, is a somewhat crazy old scientist, who kind of reminded me of Dr. Farnsworth:
Comet, the android, has a daunting task: to strengthen the love between four Earth couples before the authorities get to the space station to apprehend Sirius and, presumably, blow the place to smithereens.  Comet considers himself something of an expert on love, having had a lot of free time over the last twenty years to read novels and poetry on the subject, and figures that he's uniquely qualified for the situation.

I freely admit that I imagined Comet as Fry for the duration of the book:
Comet is innocent in the ways of people and how ridiculous things can get when you throw love in the works.  Therefore, in grand Fry fashion, Comet has to kind of bungle things a little, which makes for plenty of amusement for the audience, since we can see how things are going to play out, but the characters can't.

The four couples Comet has to work with have got to be the most persnickety set of folks walking the planet.  The thing that Comet forgot, or maybe never learned in the first place, is that people have free will, which means that they can muck up even the most straightforward plans and twist them around until nobody knows which way is up.  Comet didn't take this into account when he made his plan to increase the love factor, but he sure spends a lot of time compensating for it as the story goes on and it becomes clear that this isn't going to be as easy as he thought it was going to be.

This book takes its time getting from point A to point B, and isn't afraid to stop and have a joke or two in the midst of the zaniness and running around.  The author is firmly in control of the pace, and the reader is along for the ride.  I confess I got impatient at times, especially in the middle, when I wanted to move ahead and the story wasn't ready to do that.  It's hard to not be in charge sometimes!

This is a fun book, intended to be funny and gently critical of Valentine's Day and the surrounding brouhaha all at the same time.  The ending is certainly a happily-ever-after for everyone in the most basic sense- nobody goes home alone, except for anyone that wants to, and as far as we know, they all live happily ever after.  And as far as I'm concerned, that's Good News Everyone!

Sorry, I had to!

Overall Grade: B

Oh, what was the special surprise at the end?  Well, besides the happy ending, the first person to comment on this book will receive a SPECIAL SURPRISE BOOK from Lewis Faulkner's backlist!  In the spirit of love and togetherness, this contest is open internationally and will be open until someone comments and wins!  Good luck!
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