Helen, an Enchanted American Minotaur and Troy, a perfect boy with some demi-god in the family tree, are sent on an Epic Quest by a Lost God, and the result is a road trip that could have been choreographed by Terry Pratchett - funny Neal Gaiman - Douglas Adams - Hunter Thompson - and a handful of the Simpsons and South Park writers. It's that good.
There are lots of great reviews of the book, by professionals and by fans, but two points should be made.
The first is that as funny as the book is, and as zany as the plotting and action can be, a lot of the humor is pretty dry and deadpan. The banter and the throwaway lines are tight, efficient and sharp. This fits in with the second more important point. The book screams along at a breakneck pace. There are no lengthy setups and no joke or bit is belabored. The characters, dialogue, and action just keep breezing along, taking shots at every target imaginable as the quest barrels down the road. By the same token, cameos and guest appearances and inside jokes are brief, effective, to the point, and then left by the roadside. The book isn't hectic or disorganized or scatterbrained - it is just as streamlined and fine tuned as a racecar. Or a souped up clown car.
This is just Martinez at the top of his game, and it doesn't get better than that.
Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez was silly good fun. Helen, a minotaur with body issues, and Troy, an overachieving Asian American, find themselves forced into an epic quest by a banished hamburger god after a virgin sacrifice goes wrong.
Like all of Martinez's books, this was a zany adventure of unlikely proportions. Helen and Troy are not so typical teenagers just trying to deal with hormones, crushes, stereotypes and giant Cyclopes.
As our two heroes hit the road, they find themselves guided and pursued by the shadowy National Questing Bureau and a horde of middle-aged orcs hell bent on keeping them from completing their mission, which could possibly destroy the world--or at least most of it.
Helen and Troy's epic Road Trip is A. Lee Martinez's tenth book though all are unique tales so can be read in any order you like. His books are very easy to read, he has a simple yet clear style of writing so it's a nice fit for either teenagers or adults. I have read nearly all of them at this point and he certainly has his own style. Much like his other novels this one is a bizarre mix of weird creatures and funny situations producing a very entertaining adventure if not a very deep one.
This particular adventure starts with a girl called Helen, she's a seven foot minotaur working in a burger store along with the Herculean exemplar and all round perfect human Troy. When their boss tries to sacrifice them to a lost God (who ends up possessing a pile of burger meat) they get cursed into completing a quest for him which will kill them if they don't do it, but might kill them if they do.
The book is set in a modern world where orcs, elves, trolls and other fantasy creatures have simply integrated into society. Martinez takes many of the tropes of myths and legends of questing heroes and plays with them in the modern day creating some quite funny and unique results.
I see another reviewer compare it with Pratchett and Gaiman and while I don't think it's anything near their caliber it's certainly a unique entertaining story I recommend giving a try to.
+ Genuinely funny in places. + Unique characters and setting. + Clean writing style makes it easy to read.