...Or as I like to call it, A Series of Unfortunate Events - Texas Style! This is one of those books with a crude, bumbling, but introspective hero who proceeds to get into worse and worse scrapes throughout the novel, until his position seems so hopeless that it's all I can do to read as fast as I can to discover how he'll fight his way out of it, if he can.
Vernon lives in a small town in Texas with his emotionally manipulative mother, her catty friends, and a host of other less-savoury characters. As the novel begins, Vernon is being hauled in for questioning after his friend Jesus goes on a Columbine-esque shooting spree at their high school, killing sixteen people before turning the gun on himself. Vernon, Jesus' one friend, is suspected of being an accomplice to the murders. Vernon, of course, wasn't there during the actual shootings, but the only two people who can confirm it are either dead, or too mentally ravaged by the massacre to offer reliable testimony on his behalf.
And it goes on from there. His situation is considerably worsened by Eulalio ("Lally") Ledesma, a would-be reporter and the novel's most repulsive character, who stirs the media into a frenzy against Vernon, while simultaneously seducing and scamming his mother.
I compare this to A Series of Unfortunate Events because, for the most part, Vernon is surrounded by an absurd collection of oblivious morons who won't pay him the least attention and are easily manipulated by snake-oil salemen like Lally. Vernon, like the Beaudelaire children, is also always on the wrong end of Murphy's Law.
DBC Pierre uses an unconventional writing style cobbled from swear words and misheard labels (Lally explains to Vernon what a paradigm is, and Vernon complains throughout the rest of the novel that the "powerdime" shift is always out to get him) that provides a startlingly visceral look into the mind of a fifteen-year-old. I actually laughed out loud while reading some of the passages of this book, something I rarely do. The book is built from the absurd, the surreal, and the just plain gross, but it provides an effective, if occasionally heavy-handed satire. The ending was also extremely satisfying, revealing twists and secrets that add new colour to the first half of the book.
Other reviews that I've read of this were negative, saying this book was crude and showed the legal system to be a burlesque. I found it to be compelling, but mainly because of Vernon. The writing style and narration follow his opinions and experience, and I could relate to everything.