Title: To Terminator, With Love
Author: Wes Kennedy
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Pages/Word Count: 125 Pages
At a Glance: The story itself was a bit crazy and all over the place at times, but I really just chalked it up to the campy style and assumed that, for the most part, it was what the author set out to do.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Dexter Wu’s life is hectic, but he’s managing—mostly. He’s on the verge of finishing grad school, and that means putting the final touches on his number one project: HAL, a social robot and children’s storytelling companion. But his best friend is leaving the country for good, his birthday’s coming up, he’s swamped with studying for finals, and he hasn’t slept in days.
He’s also going to destroy the world.
At least, his robot is, according to the possibly untrustworthy Agency, an organization whose mission is to protect the world at all costs. After his birthday party turns into a fight for his life, Dexter’s simple life of fast food and Netflix binges is replaced by a glitchy oracle, the world’s douchiest secret agents, and an ever-increasing chain of conspiracies.
With the help of Andre, a mysterious and disenchanted young agent turned rogue, Dexter sets out to plead his case to the Director in an effort to get his life back to what counts as normal—but he should know by now nothing is ever so easy.
Review: To Terminator, With Love, Wes Kennedy’s debut novella, was a lot of fun. While the book itself was basically a crazy romp through the world of pop culture via this fun little spy-story vehicle, the characters and setting felt very authentic. From the opening scene with Dexter threatening HAL, his final project for his robotics class—I mean, who doesn’t talk to inanimate objects as if you fully expect them to respond?—I felt immersed in the setting. And, the description of Dexter’s dorm-room birthday party had me thinking, “Huh. I bet that is tooootally what life on campus with a bunch of MIT grad school nerds would be like. Ha!” It felt like Kennedy had a lot of fun writing this, and that definitely translated to the page.
Dexter is fantastic. His appreciation of food, his life views, and his immense love for HAL were constantly cracking me up. And, some of these lines, you guys…
Dexter’s legs still felt like jelly from his brush with near-certain death, and he wasn’t exactly Usain Bolt or even an average track-running fifth grader…
Dexter clutched the hem of his hoodie as if it were his pearls.
Just two little examples of both Dexter’s quirky, funny personality, as well as the type of humor and quick wit that can be found sprinkled liberally throughout the book.
I also liked Andre a lot, though he was quite a bit tougher to get to know than Dexter. I mean…mysterious secret agent. Duh. But, once he started letting that smile loose, and opened up to Dex about their shared love of all things sci-fi—which Dexter basically suspected from the get-go—it was on. We learn that Andre was expected to follow in the family footsteps by joining the Agency, but that he actually had aspirations of becoming a filmmaker. Also, you can learn a lot about a guy by how he acts at his grandmother’s house, and Agent Jackson proved himself to be a big sweetheart.
I mentioned the book being filled with pop culture, and I wasn’t kidding. It was Jam. Packed. I imagine some people might find it to be a bit much, or not get some of the references, but I for one had a lot of fun with it. I’m not sure it was entirely realistic for every one of their exchanges to be filled with movie references or dialogue, but to be honest, I didn’t really care. I just rolled with it as their “thing.” The banter was hilarious—if anyone were to see my highlights it would be obvious just how funny I thought it was—and Dexter and Andre were super cute together.
Other than being mildly disappointed that nobody ever found the opportunity to say, “That’s not how the force works,” I rather enjoyed this one. 😉 The story itself was a bit crazy and all over the place at times, but I really just chalked it up to the campy style and assumed that, for the most part, it was what the author set out to do. Like I said, very fun and cute. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more from Wes Kennedy.
You can buy To Terminator, With Love here: