Book Review | badbadbad by Jesus Angel Garcia

badI received badbadbad through the Goodreads First Reads program and after reading the praise on the inside cover I was excited to get started. The writing of Jesus Angel Garcia was compared to Philip Roth, Kurt Vonnegut and Flannery O’Conner. Be still my beating heart! Unfortunately, it fell far short of my expectations.

On the plus side, the author’s voice is definitely a dynamic one. His prose has a unique cadence and energy to it that initially drew me in. He’s also quite talented at descriptions. For example:

“Her face was dull, faintly splotched, creased like a touring band’s road map. Her lips were paper-thin, crayoned with a neon crimson that stuck to her front teeth. Her eyes were emeralds, pink-striped, framed by centipedes. I would stare at her like an anthropologist, unsure where to fix my gaze without making her uncomfortable. The pint of Everclear she carried around took the edge off.”

The plot is quite original and the storyline did work for me – initially. Eventually though I began to realize a few things. First, I absolutely hated the protagonist. He was full of himself, annoying, really, really stupid and just generally a jerk. For example, he gets stood up at one point of the book and reacts thusly:

“What the fuck, bitch?!” I hollered at her voicemail. “What’s your fucking problem? Who do you think you are? I hope you crashed your fucking car and your head is through the windshield. You best be in the ER or I’ll make you fucking wish you were. You think I’m playing? Call me back, bitch. Stupid fucking whore.”

He does a lot of internet dating on a site called ‘fallenangels’ and after getting rejected many times, he eventually tells us the ‘secret’ to people’s self-descriptions on internet dating sites – thought it’s really just a list of really easy, obvious ‘jokes’ and some eye-rolling inaccuracies:

“voluptuous= sow shaped; thin=anorexic; petite=midget; young at heart = old peculiar; active = ADHD; well-to-do = pompous; thinning hair = bald; kinky = abused and/or abusive; bi-curious = faggot; generous = sugar daddy; partygirl = tweaker; former rocker = yuppie; rockstar = poser; good Christian = hypocrite; open-minded = relativist”

The protagonist, oh so cleverly named Jesus Angel Garcia, is supposed to be in his 20s and the book is supposed to take place fairly recently (the characters apparently use MySpace, which either means the book was written ~4 years ago or the author is just super out of touch) but based on the vernacular, it reads more like some guy ins his 30s or 40s trying to write like he’s young and hip. He constantly uses the word ‘beeyatch’, which, ouch! I mean, seriously, this happens:

“Your pictures are the bomb! Are you a pro photographer?”

There are also pages and pages of chat logs, which are super boring and also cringe worthy. Example:

“jesusangel: God created you
jesusangel: to show the whole wide world
jesusangel: what
jesusangel: beauty
jesusangel: is
dream2live4evR: i wish you could see my face
dream2live4evR: thank you, that means a lot
jesusangel: I’m just truthtelling, darlin
dream2live4evR: people don’t usually say such nice things”

I refuse to believe that works on anyone.

I think my least favorite part was the 5 or 6 pages of descriptions of pictures. First of all, he usually calls pictures, photos, etc, “.jpegs”, which… no one says, dude. Second of all, I don’t care about your boring pictures. It was like someone I don’t know getting drunk and making me sit down and look at picture after picture of people I don’t know and then telling me dull stories about said boring people I don’t know – except I didn’t even get to see the pictures. I’m not sure what the point of that was.

In summation, I would not recommend this book to a friend. I think there was a solid story in there and I think Jesus Angel Garcia does a few things right but overall I don’t think this book achieved what he was hoping for.

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