I finished Totally Killer, Greg Olear's debut novel, just in time for the semester to start here so now I won't be distracted from my school work. It was definitely good company for me on my bus rides to and from school in the past few weeks though, so I'm going to miss it.
Part murder mystery, part conspiracy, this book, which will be released Tomorrow (September 29), tells the story of how Taylor Schmidt came to be deceased at the tender age of 23 (Not a spoiler! We learn this in the first pages of the book). The narrator, Todd Lander, does all he can to take us back to New York in 1991, the fateful year of Taylor's death.
From talking about what life was like before the Internet (There was a time before the Internet?!), to Todd's sad attempt to win Taylor's love by making her a mixed tape, this book will take you back to the early 90's the way Bret Easton Ellis takes you back to the early 80's in Less Than Zero. It's funny because I never really think of anything really defining the 90's, not in the way that pop music, fluorescent clothing, and awesome hair defined the 80's, but Olear has really captured what the decade had to offer. I especially liked the talk of the economic downturn at the time and what the "slacker" culture really meant. It really got me thinking.
As for the story, I really liked Taylor Schmidt's character, if only because I felt like I really could relate to her (at least in the beginning of the book). I thought some of the book was predictable, but the ending threw me off, which I liked. I felt like I was really wrapped up in the conspiracy by the end, the same way Todd would have felt if he were a real person. I love that about conspiracy fiction. The author (or, more often, filmmaker) spends so much time building up this world and getting you to really buy into and then BAM! nothing is what it seems and you begin to question everything you've just read. I thought Olear did a great job of that.
This was a good read set in a time period I don't really think much about, even though it was the time when most of my growing up happened, so it was a refreshing read. It's obvious Olear did a lot of research on the 90's (or he has a unhealthy attachment to those years). I thought the book was fun to read and I loved the title's play on words (even if I did have the saying "Totally killer, dude" stuck in my head for days). Definitely a good one to check out if you're looking for a quick, fun read.