Someone, please rescue me from this series. …It’s alright, the end is in sight. Let’s get this over with. Let’s escape from the Felix Gomez series with Rescue From Planet Pleasure, by Mario Acevedo.
Planet Pleasure. The one place in the galaxy you seriously want to avoid, but it’s the next stop for Felix Gomez, detective-vampire and undead enforcer. His mission: rescue the bodacious vampiress, the hyper-sexual Carmen Arellano, from the clutches of ruthless warrior aliens. Her captors have doomed themselves by honing their military prowess at the expense of their libido, and Carmen is their last chance in regaining their mojo before they die out. Felix can’t waste any time because Phaedra, the ruthless bloodsucking ingénue–now with extra-superpowers–is making good on her threat to destroy the Araneum and take over the undead underworld. Luckily, Felix is not alone in his quest to save Carmen and stop Phaedra. That redheaded whirlwind with a gun, Jolie, has got his back. Also lending a hand is everyone’s favorite down-and-out trickster sage, Coyote, and he’s brought along his mom…la Malinche…aka La Llorona! Here it comes, ground zero of a mega-ton story bristling with action, interstellar double-crosses, skin-walkers, Hopi magic, and trigger-happy goons. Exactly what you’d expect from Felix Gomez.
I hope, dear reader, that you understand the lengths to which I go in order to write these reviews for you. Quite understandably, no reputable library wishes to sully its name by carrying a book with a title like Rescue From Planet Pleasure. There, in order to bring you this review, I was actually forced to buy this book with my very own money. I will have to see similar trashy books in by Amazon “based on your recent purchases, you may also enjoy…” section for who knows how long, and reflexively cover my computer screen in shame in case anyone is looking. I will have to see Rescue From Planet Pleasure on my bookshelf, and I don’t think that I’ll be able to but help imagine is slowly infecting the books around it, like a library virus out of The Rabbit Back Literature Society. (Accordingly, I’ve wedged it in between Murder on Ceres and The Black Sun since, as you might gather from my previous reviews of those books, no big loss there).
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The beginning of the book actually gave me hope that the Felix Gomez series might finish on a high note. Before the novel proper was a short story, “A Rainy Night in Commerce City”, which showed the side of the series I like: Felix dealing with gritty, down-to-Earth problems like settling a score with a drug dealer on behalf of a client. See now, as bad as the series has been in places, it’s also possible for it to tell good stories. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? From there, the book proper leapt straight into a plot centered around Phaedra declaring war on the Araneum. You remember, right, how that was a thing which happened in the third-to-last book of the series? It didn’t ever stop being a thing that happened, though you may be forgiven for forgetting it since it was never at all brought up in the second-to-last book of the series – where everyone was all concerned about war with the werewolves, apparently completely forgetting that Phaedra was in the process of conquering the world. In any case, there was potential for an actually interesting story to be told, with Felix having to confront the monster he unwittingly created and slay Phaedra to save the world.
But, of course, the illusion of decency cannot last long. Based on the title, it is a foregone conclusion that there’s going to be aliens in it. And, as is usual for the Felix Gomez series, the part where aliens get involved is the moment everything starts going rapidly downhill.
Of course, Carmen’s abduction by aliens way back in… was it the third book? Anyway, it was a major dangling plot thread; and this being the book intended to close out the series and tie up all the loose ends, of course it needs to include a subplot about rescuing her from, yes, Planet Pleasure. Which I might have been okay with, if it was a minor subplot about Felix performing a quick commando raid to bust her out… but instead, Felix gets himself captured as well during the attempt, and the subplot blooms into a huge cancerous tumor which fills up about a third of the novel. Back on Earth, Phaedra must be tapping her foot and looking at her watch, waiting for this whole grand battle for the fate of the world to kick off, and meanwhile Felix is getting roped into gratuitous human-alien sex scenes.
This part is bad. Really, really bad. And I’m not saying this merely because the sex scenes, though they are in fact described in horrible, stomach-churning detail – and to be clear, we are not talking about green-skinned space-babe type aliens where they look basically like humans with a few prosthesis and it’s still quite clear how Tab A fits into Slot B, but about completely inhumanoid creatures forcibly grinding their quite incompatible sexual organs against Felix in a display of pulsating organs and oozing fluids that had previously only been witnessed by man within the deepest, darkest nightmares of H.P. Lovecraft. I mean, yes, obviously that’s a part of it, but it manages to be bad in a bunch of mundane ways at the same time. Dumping a huge amount of exposition on us about this particular alien race which we’re only just now meeting and, this being the last book, know isn’t important because we’ll never meet them again. Introducing a bunch of new alien characters, and expecting us to gave a single solitary damn about their individual hopes, struggles, and dreams when we’re really just waiting for Felix to get back to Earth and fight Phaedra already. And, just in case you do manage to somehow develop some emotional attachment to the aliens, jokes on you: as soon as Felix and Carmen make their actual escape from Planet Pleasure, the alien characters are killed off and the whole research project of theirs which we received endless exposition about comes to nothing. Which only emphasizes the fact that it all could have been cut out and nothing of value would have been lost.
Once Felix and Carmen return to Earth, the book makes a final last-ditch effort to get the plot back on track and get us psyched up for the huge climactic battle with Phaedra… but by this point, it’s too little and too late. Even a really good climactic fight scene isn’t going to make me forget all the horrible, painful problems the book has had up to this point. And the fight scene itself is kind of facing an uphill battle on turning out even moderately decent, given how the whole middle section of the book just killed every last bit of momentum the plot had, stopping the narrative progression dead in its tracks so it could treat us to a bunch of alien sex scenes. You can’t just leap straight from that back into the big fight to save the world.
Anyway, obvious outcome is obvious: Felix wins, Phaedra dies, world is saved. Big surprise.
And yet, despite its best efforts, Rescue From Planet Pleasure almost managed to eke out a not-quite-bottom-tier score of two from me. Largely, it’s because I just don’t care enough about it to be offended. When an otherwise really good series like Wild Cards has a terrible installment like Down and Dirty, I take it as a personal affront. I get mad, because I know the series is capable of better. But Felix Gomez being really bizarre and pointlessly vulgar? Par for the course, baby. If it had been a completely gratuitous book tacked on to the end of the series, somehow failing to resolve the floating plot points of Carmen and Phaedra from the previous novels, that would be truly deserving of a one. But since it at least does a decent job in wrapping up all the loose ends… it’s not even exceptionally bad. It’s just plain ordinary dross.
Then I decided, nah, fuck it, I’m giving it a one anyway. I didn’t enjoy reading it, I’m certainly never going to read it again, and I had to spend money on this shit. It’s definitely the worst of the Felix Gomez series, and I was already being kind of generous in giving some of the previous books scores of two… You didn’t quite manage to reach rock bottom on your own merit; but for you, Felix Gomez, I will break out my shovel and dig down that last final bit. And then I shall hit you over the head with it, dump you in the hole, and fill it back in; as is only appropriate for the literary equivalent of toxic waste.
And so ends my look at the Felix Gomez series. Now, hopefully, I’ll be able to devote my time to reading better things.
Final Rating: 1/5