"Koko Takes a Holiday" Book Review
Written by Kieran Shea
2014, 400 pages, Fiction
Released on June 10, 2014
As with most aspects of pop culture, I can always dig a bit of mental chewing gum after overloading the brain with dense TV shows, dramatic films or epic 1000-page books encapsulating massive universes. Koko Takes a Holiday promises mindless excess on the front cover, depicting the protagonist as a bad-ass babe wielding a massive gun. The action and pacing is fun and on par with what one would expect after looking at the cover, and the feminist slant in the universe is interesting, but the novel falls short in maturity and reads more like young adult fiction than anything that could remain timeless or cross age demographics very successfully.
Koko is an ex-soldier/killer for hire and living out her early retirement in The Sixty Islands, where she owns and operates a brothel. Consistently surrounded with male prostitutes, depravity, alcohol, violence and plenty of sex, she fits in comfortably due to her tough-as-nails persona that generally defers any harm coming specifically her way. Although a standard evening would include a harmless fight or two, one night her bar is attacked by a pack of merciless killers and in spite of her years of boozing and a generally sedentary lifestyle, she snaps back into her predatory default and kills everyone in her way. After discovering that the person who contracted the hit on her was her old friend, Portia Delacompte, Koko takes her escape pod to the Second Free Zone and where she can take the time to figure out what her next move is.
Koko Takes a Holiday is a page turner for fans of action-heavy novels because of its undemanding syntax that makes it very consumable, but it simultaneously causes the book to be pretty forgettable. Its Neo-Noir world is often compared to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which is a considerable strain because the story lacks any depth to make it emotional or relevant to the reader like Androids does. A lot of the dialogue and exposition reads as though it is better suited to the young adult genre of fiction, but with its context that is heavy in sex and violence, it is perhaps unsuitable for most people under sixteen. The most interesting dynamic to the novel is the feminist twist on the characters, as every person in a position of stoic command is a woman and the secondary or tertiary characters are men. The problem is that this implicates that the opposite is true in our universe, which is incredibly false, and it can be argued that making female characters stereotypically masculine is still sexist because a woman is a woman and not a man. Whichever viewpoint the reader sways to in an action novel, the choice to make female characters the possessors of power appears as an interesting and exciting artistic choice when so much of the science fiction genre is ruled by male characters. Koko Takes a Holiday is a good read for people that are in need of a vacation for their brains, but because of how shallow it is, it's unlikely that it will reserve a spot in the art world as a timeless piece of literature.