Brian Parker once again pulls off a gritty grimy future cyberpunk noir tale in his second audiobook of the Easytown series called “Tears of a Clone”. I very much enjoyed the first book in the series, and I was happy to listen and review the second. The author tells a rich, full, detailed, and engrossing story which only gets better the second time around. What makes the book even more enjoyable is that the audiobook edition is narrated by the same person who voiced the first book of the series; Daniel Penz. I enjoyed the emotion and depth he contributed to each of the story’s characters along with the crisp and professional audio quality. What makes this story so good is the wonderful blending of a great author along with a great narrator to produce a gem of an audiobook. One could easily close their eyes, and as they listen, imagine experiencing a full-length movie playing our before you; and I would love to see this series made into a motion picture or TV mini-series. Think Blade Runner blended with Grand Theft Auto along with some L.A. Noir for style. I’m not a huge fan of books which are in the hardboiled or detective procedural genre, but the author does such a wonderful job of spinning this story that I would listen to it no matter what. If you are a person who like well-crafted stories with a heavy cyberpunk feel, I would say this is a series you will want to listen too. It is worth the credit.
Let me first stated that this book deals with some very dark topics and the main arching theme is that of our main character investigating what is referred to as “torture tourism”. This is where clones are abused in any way imaginable for the pleasure and excitement of those willing to pay to play or watch. Easytown is easy in nearly every aspect and in some cases bad things seems to slip though the hands of the law or it is ignored by them. However, detective Forrest is one who does not like to see wrong ignored. Even with his many problems and faults, he is a man who understands the justice system. He will sacrifice his own job and even his life to bring those who break the law to justice. In many ways, he must leverage all his resources and even the slimy Tommy Voodoo from the first book. He is a man who gets away with murder, but the law can never pin any crime on him. This story has many of your favorites from the first, and a few newcomers who are a welcomed addition. There is a vigilante taking the law in his own hands called the Paladin. I expect we will see him showing up more and more in future books.
What I like most about this author and narrator duo is their ability to bring a story to life and not just provide details but instead paint a picture which touches nearly every one of your senses. The scenes are vivid, the characters are complex and likeable, and I felt that each fit their personalities very well. Solutions to problems did not simply appear a few pages prior allowing our character to save the day, not at all. Instead as you listen and the story unravels, you begin to see how all the pieces fit wonderfully together. In many places I found myself saying, wow, I did not see that coming. Not only are we presented with a good story backdrop, we are also shown many new and exciting technologies in this future world. Items from weapons, scanning device, and even vehicles all felt new and different. Yet, technology felt familiar and not over the top futuristic. One thing to remember is that smart toilets are not your friend and should be avoided at all costs. After listening to this story, I now look at my Alexa a bit differently. When will it become Andy? This story is very well-written, I in some ways I think better than the first, even with its darker theme. It truly was a joy to listen too.
Those who listened to the first book will remember the heavy sarcasm and no hole’s attitude of the main character this does not change or improve in this book either. We are given a deeper view into Andy, our main character’s assistance bot. She also is one who takes no flak from people. What the book centers around is the clones themselves. Here we learn of the large portion of the population who have no feelings or desire for clones to have any rights. They are not seen as moral beings but more objects which are property with no privileges. It reminded me of the way slaves were treated in the American south during the Civil War period.
This book in the series is a bit darker and graphic from the first, but much of this is due to the rather weighty and heavy topics covered. It should be noted that each of the Easytown stories can be listened to as a standalone audiobook, but you will get so much more if you listen to them in order. Many of the main characters from the first book are included in this book as well as a few newer ones. I like that Andy is back and as snarky as ever. With such a heavy and dark theme, the author does a good job of sprinkling in bits of dry humor and quips along the way which will make you laugh. I will say that I was surprised that romance was as difficult today as it will be in the future. In this second book we find that our main character struggles with relationships as he does not have time to devote himself to them. There is such a good emphasis placed in the importance of both friendships and relationships for people in their lives and I felt the author did a great job of brings this to the forefront.
Not only does the book deal with the main subject of torturing clones, it also includes more sinister areas of moral issues along with deep levels of prejudice. Here we also see the difficulties of what it is to be a detective. Long hours, late nights, weekends, and all of this takes a toll on one’s body and friends. We see our main character try to drown his sorrows in alcohol at the expense of those who love and care for him. He finds that these means are not the way to handle such problems.
The audiobook’s narration was full, expressive, and clear of any audio artifacts. The level of professionalism puts Daniel Penz is right up there with some of the best narrators I have listened too. His voice fits the character and story to a tee. It is smooth, a bit gritty, and dynamic. I am so glad to know that he narrates all three books currently in the series. For the characters who had accents, the narrator performs these masterfully. There are some light audio effects used in this story and the narrator does an exceptional job of making sure they are subtle and do not take away from the story. Little things like having the one end of a phone conversation sound as if it was truly coming from such a device. Good job.
For parents and younger readers, this book is intended for mature audiences only. There is heavy use of vulgar language and many adult themes included. There is a fair amount of graphic violence that may be too intense for younger readers. I would highly recommend the book only be enjoyed by mature listeners.
In summary, if you like your books to be a bit dark, dirty, depraved along with gritty, grimy and even gross at times, you may find yourself enjoying this expertly well-written book. If you take anything from this review, I will quote the author when he says, “Exuberant the new word for the day.”. If you are not sure what that means, go look it up as your mother would say. I can say this book has many elements what make that quote a reality. Sure, there is mystery, suspense, and a bit of whodunnit, but this is only the tip of the iceberg once you dive deeper into its story. Upon completion of this second book in the series, you will be able to easily slide right in to the third which is currently available on Audible.