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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review: Jam Don't Shake

Title: Jam Don't Shake
Author: Nicholas J. Carter
Page Count: 126 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: Vagabondage Press
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

They seem so innocent: jars of jellies and jams. But the inhabitants of the town of Goodman know better.

An additive in Auntie Goodtimes Jams and Jellies turns good people into rioting murderers when their supply is cut off, the factory burned to the ground, and the National Guard closing in.

Doug is trying to survive in this post-Goodtimes world, sating his addiction with a carefully dosed tablespoon a day of jelly. And, when supplies get low, Doug, like others, finds that cravings can be quelled with the blood of fellow addicts.

Is it really murder when it’s a matter of survival?

Soylent Green is made of people, soma makes it all okay, and Auntie Goodtimes jelly is bringing about the end of the world through condiment addiction.  This story is short but packs a punch, with a view into a world that has been turned upside down by that most innocent of sandwich ingredients.  

The story opens with carnage at the grocery store, as Goodtimes addicts fight their way through the grocery store to try to find jars of jelly to keep their addictions at bay. It's kind of like Mad Max goes grocery shopping, with blood and guts everywhere and fights to death breaking out in the jelly aisle, and I admit that I was immediately reminded of this song:

Yes, what would we do if there was no more food? Or rather, what would we do if we didn't care if there was food if there wasn't any JELLY?  Dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories don't seem to lend themselves well to parody, but Jam Don't Shake does an admirable job of making such a thing possible.  The desperation and the fight for survival that characterize those genres are here in force, but the laughable reason that those things came about is what makes the story unique.  It's the kind of story that you have to roll around in your brain for a few minutes to get the full effect.  Addictive additives in jelly turning people into slavering zombies on the hunt for a fix? You get the idea.

Don't get me wrong- this story isn't all giggles and laughs.  There's a lot of violence and bloodshed, most of it senseless and graphic and in your face.  There are plenty of sobering moments where the characters realize that they are truly monsters, no better than beasts, and yet are powerless to do anything about it without outside intervention.  That intervention does come, in an unexpected way, and the characters who are left standing at the end of it have to figure out for themselves if they can learn to adapt to a new world and new rules- again.

Like I said, for being so short, this story packs a punch.  It's a great example of story elements being brought together in new ways, and it asks a lot of questions that are funny at first and not so funny as the story goes on.  I recommend checking this book out (only if you're not squeamish though) to experience the chutzpah for yourself.

Overall Grade:
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