Series: Koko (#3)
Publication Date: 2018
Koko Martstellar is back, this time on a ship bound for space. Having lost everything, Koko throws herself into an all-or-nothing battle against the odds. With the universe stacked against her, will Koko emerge alive . . ?
As I start this review of book three, I want to point out that everything I said about book one still stands. Koko Uncaged is messy, over-the-top, and at times nonsensical. I don’t have anything more to add that I haven’t already said without getting bogged down in negativity. So this isn’t going to be a normal review. Now that I’ve reached the end of this trilogy I want to talk about the positives of it.
First of all, the covers are absolutely gorgeous. Bright, bold colours with Koko standing loud and proud in the centre. I can’t think of any other covers that grab the eye quite as well. Even if you weren’t a big science fiction reader, I’d bet you’d pick these up if you saw them on the self. The almost photo-realistic character art really stands out with how pale Koko is in contrast to the red or yellow stripes in the background. Throw in the lettering and you have a cover that could have been taken from the pages of a comic. It really hits home the pulp aesthetic that runs through these books. Everyone at the Titan Books design team deserves heaps of praise for their work here. As an aside, Titan have some of the most distinctive covers in the industry in overall design. Even when they have the same spaceship on starfield art that dominates space-based SF, their fonts and layout are simply brilliant.
Turning back to the author himself, I have to praise Shea for trying something new. Even though his prose just doesn’t work for me, I can’t think of anyone who writes the way he does. He has a manic energy that carries through every page of the book, and despite their pulpiness these books are not particularly short. This entire trilogy is around a thousand pages, but the short chapters and direct language makes them all fly by. On the topic of chapters, the titles also deserve a mention. The majority of books I read have simple numbered chapters, but Shea gives each one a unique title. With some chapters only a page or two in length, that’s a lot of chapter titles by the time the series is out. And in a book crammed with jokes and winks, the titles are among the funniest parts. There’s also more than just regular prose here. There are extracts of emails, a dog’s PoV, transcripts of news reports, and more. The pacing is just relentless, for better and worse, but it’s so varied in its delivery.
At the end of the day, Koko isn’t a trilogy I would recommend. Not without knowing the potential reader. But even if I personally find large parts of it very lacking, there is still some good in this trilogy.