Thursday, August 12, 2010

Masked Review: Cleansed and Set in Gold

The author of Cleansed and Set in Gold is Matthew Sturges. I am unfamiliar with him and his work so I have nothing to say about... well, him and his work. I do like his title choice, though.

Also, this is his blog:

On to the review! SPOILERS AHEAD.


Let's get this out of the way.

"She clearly could care less what I make of the Ghoul King, and I don't even bother to answer her."


/anal annie

In other news, his use of the present tense gets a gold star from me.

So the main character of Cleansed and Set in Gold (C&SG) is named David Caulfield, his superhero alias is Wildcard. His superpower is variable. You never know what he's going to show up to a battle with. Invisibility? Maybe. Flight? It's possible. Underwear outside of his pants? You know it. Funnily enough, the only powers he expresses are of his fellow superheroes in the League of Heroes. Simple, right?

The twist is that he's a cannibal. That's how he gets his powers. Any heroes or villians who die, he digs up and stores in his secret refrigerated lair (Sidebar: His secret refrigerated lair is accessible from his apartment. I'm not sure how that works.) and eats as needed.

Honestly, the first time I read C&SG I was like, WHAT THE MUFF, LAMEFACE?

The second time, I liked it a lot more.

There was this nice bit of foreshadowing in the beginning that I missed but caught on the second read. It seems obvious now, but at the time I just thought, "Oh, yeah, eating makes me feel better, too." I dunno, the whole eat-the-flesh-of-your-enemies-to-gain-their-strength trope is extremely old but it's stuck around. I mean, it's in District 9, and that only came out last year.

But then it's like... what about hair and nails and stuff? There's this part at the end when he eats part of his still-living enemy and gains her power, so obviously he doesn't have to eat already dead people. Or, hey, hey, hey, David could try giving out some blowjobs and see if that worked. Plus, how did he even discover his superpower? And what constitutes a power? If he ate a fish, could he swim real fast and breathe underwater? If he ate some beef, would he taste delicious?

Maybe this short story would have worked better as a book. Or maybe there just could have been a Q&A afterward.

(Sidebar again: Back to his secret refrigerated lair, sorry. David is being interviewed by this reporter, and he shows her the false wall that leads to his lair. He notes she is "impressed" and I JUST figured out why. SHE THINKS YOU CAN BEND SPACE AND TIME, DAVID. SHE THINKS YOU ARE A TIME LORD.)


C&SG gets another gold star for its focus on character relationships.

LOL. Look what I wrote in my notes: More characters involved in an action scene, the harder it is to do. Matthew Sturges manages to skirt around this law by killing off his heroes as quick as possible.

It's true, too. This League of Heroes is really more of a Group of Heroes. And by the end, it's pretty much just a Couple. David's got to power his superpower somehow.

Oh, and there's this weird interaction toward the beginning of C&SG where it's revealed David has a love of words. I was waiting for it to come into play again, but no. Never again.

There's not much more for me to say about C&SG without going real in-depth, blah, blah, symbolism, blah, blah, who cares. There's a scene where David gives that reporter I mentioned earlier the interview of her life, but the only reason I take issue with it is because I would have done it differently and that's a lame reason not to like something. Matthew Sturges did it his way; it's his story, and I'm not going to go all, I HATE THIS WRITE IT MY WAY OR ELSE DAMN IT

AND. There is a lot of dialogue. A lot of it was unnecessary. At first I felt like Sturges was doing it because he normally works with comic books, so lots of dialogue is just business as usual for him. But then he lampshaded it at one point because David is like, "I'm saying this aloud, but the words aren't really necessary." FUCKIN' A, DAVID. FUCKIN' A.

So what? Good concept. Slightly uneven execution. No plot holes, but some major backstory holes. 4.5 out of 5. I'm being a little generous here because a couple of the stories to come are so bad, this one seems... *puts on sunglasses* ...cleansed and set in gold.



  1. That picture will now haunt my dreams, thanks.

    Ha, things like when a character mentions something that seems significant (RE: love of words) but it never comes up again really bother me. Because I spend the entire story waiting for that to come up again. It happens so much in Harry Potter; Dumbledore will give Harry a look or say something vague the never comes up again. And then I, being a freak, feel cheated.

    Maybe his mysterious superpowers involve a Tardis and that's why he was all vague about it because you know, aliens. Hello, his name is David. David Tennant played the Doctor. IT ALL FITS!!

    I'm so sorry this book was a dud. I only read one review of it before going all "OMG I HAVE TO BUY THIS FOR JONNY!" Fail. At least you liked Ender's Game.

  2. It wasn't a dud! Anthologies are the Edible Arrangements of the literary world. They look awesome, but then here and there are flowers made out of pear (I hate pear) or cardinals from watermelon (I also hate watermelon). But then there's a banana Mickey Mouse cross-dressing in a chocolate-covered strawberry dress, and you are like, yes! I love all those things! Except that choice of arrangement is questionable, so maybe you don't love it TOO much, but it's still delicious in your mouth.

    So, yeah. Worse stories are coming up. Some seriously awful stories. But also better ones!

  3. Honestly, you so thoroughly distracted me with that chocolate cross dressing Micky Mouse, I have no idea if you liked or disliked the book anymore.