Friday, November 20, 2020

Book Review: American Hippo by Sarah Gailey

 I don't know about you, but currently I don't feel like reading anything about the here and now. A friend recently mentioned this as a reason why she's been reading a lot of historical fiction, but in my opinion that only takes care of one of the two issues--the now. But not the here. I have never been a big reader of speculative fiction... until now. And now I want nothing more than to escape. Completely. Maybe to another solar system, maybe to a magical world, and maybe to an alternate history of the United States where the Wild West took place in the swamps that used to be the Mississippi river Delta, but now are completely overrun with murdering feral hippos.

Not sound up your alley? Well give it a chance! I can count on one hand the number of alternate history books I've ever read, and this one was a delight.

This almost could have happened. A couple of decades after this book takes place, in the real world, it was proposed that we import hippos into the Mississippi to help with control of plant life, and as a great food source. This suggestion was taken very seriously and made its way far up the federal government before it was very wisely squashed, given that hippos are super murdery. This book takes that wacky idea, puts it in a more fun time frame, and plays out what likely would have happened. Just like with pretty much every other invasive species, while we'd say we'd keep it completely under control, we've never managed to do that, so it's safe to assume some hippos would get loose and go feral. 

Here we have a band of outlaws who have come together for a big--and legal!--score. They've been hired to destroy the dams keeping the majority of the hippos in the swamp, which hopefully means they'll all be swept out to sea and life in the region can more or less go back to the way it was before. Each of the outlaws have different skill sets and suffice it to say, none of them trust each other. Except for the ones who would kill for each other. So we have a fun western with better diversity than you've ever seen in that genre before, and lots of action. It was so much fun and an excellent distraction! So saddle up your hippo, and let's go!

This book is published by Tor, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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