I’ve never read any of Richard Kadrey’s other work, but when I saw The Everything Box being compared to Christopher Moore’s novels (which I love), I knew I would have to pick it up.
Boy, I’m glad I did.
This novel starts off ridiculous, with the angel in charge of office supplies misplacing the box he was supposed to use to end the world, and just keeps getting more and more insane and over the top. Thief Coop, who is immune to magic, is hired to steal the box and puts together a team. Soon, everyone is after it, including two cults, an undead zombie “mook,” the original angel who lost it and a bunch more players we needn’t get into here. Coop gets involuntarily recruited by the Department of Peculiar Science (DOPS) and sets out to recover the box and see that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
This book is laugh-out-loud funny in places, and it takes a lot to make me say that. Kadrey has a knack for witty banter and fast-paced quips that make you chuckle, which he couples with a dry wit when it comes to explaining the supernatural world he’s created. It’s a tone that really works well for the novel (and yes, does remind me greatly of Christopher Moore). The two cults alone had me giggling every time I reached one of their chapters, let alone the rest of the story. It’s offbeat, off-kilter and wacky, and yet it works remarkably well for the world Kadrey has created.
The plot seems simple at the beginning, though as the novel progresses it gets more and more convoluted. I’m not 100% sure that Kadrey really pulls it off (some of the late-comers to the search for the box aren’t very well explained, nor do they add much to the story), but he writes with such flair that it’s hard to mark him down for it. The book also whisks by at a steady clip, plot moving faster and faster, that you’re not likely to put it down.
The characters are a bit of a mixed bag. Coop gets better as the novel progresses and he’s forced into reluctant action, and the various cult members (with such exceedingly culty names as “Steve” and “Jerry”) are actually remarkably sympathetic from the get-go, for all that they want to end the world. Bayliss is equally likeable (perhaps the most likeable for me personally), but that’s pretty much where it stops. Giselle comes off as petty and somewhat rude in her belittling of Coop, and many if not most of the other DOPS characters (especially Nelson) are fundamentally unlikeable. Maybe that’s the point though, since we’re seeing this from Coop’s eyes – after all, he doesn’t really want to be a part of any of this, and DOPS behaves rather jerkishly throughout the novel.
That being said, this book is a fun romp, a combo caper and supernatural novel that shifts effortlessly between those elements. Best of all, it’ll make you laugh, and who couldn’t use some laughter these days? Go read it and find out who ends up with the box and if the world gets destroyed!