James Stark is continuing to keep me company while I sort, pack, and move boxes. The contrast between my mundane, everyday tasks and the operatic celestial machinations of Stark’s life keep me moving. This is the third book in the series, so there will be some necessary spoilers. I’ll put the important stuff for non readers here – Aloha from Hell is terrific and you should start reading this series so that you can have the joy of reading this book. I’m listening to the series, and I cannot say enough good things about MacLeod Andrews narration. Read it or listen to it. Either way it is worth your time.
Stark has saved the world again, but now the Golden Vigil is gone (just as well) and Lucifer has fucked off to Heaven to become Samael again. The very judgmental angel, Aelita, has murdered Stark’s father, Doc Kinski/Uriel, and has run off to kill God. Stark is adrift once again – great in an apocalypse, not so great at regular life. Mason Faim is still in Hell, and has mostly taken over, making it harder for Stark to kill him. Making matters worse, since his human half almost died as a result of a zombie bite, he is fighting with his angel half. Worst multiple personality disorder ever.
Just as one thing starts to go right – Stark and Candy make good on that massacre booty call from Sandman Slim – Mason lets it be known that he plans to burn down the universe and wants Stark to come play. Now Stark has to go back to Hell, save Alice’s soul, kill Mason, and save the Universe. Again.
Aloha from Hell is the installment in the series with which I have the some conflicted feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m kvetching about this bottle of excellent champagne being slightly less bubbly than the other bottle of excellent champagne. It’s still better than the other sparkling wines. The story loses a little momentum when Stark leaves LA. There is a small period where the bubbles don’t effervesce quite as much. Suddenly, Stark is out of LA and away from his friends and enemies. There’s still some interesting stuff happening, Stark is still Stark and Kadrey’s writing is still engrossing. It’s in these passages when I realize how much of a character LA is in the series. Stark hates Hell too, but not the same way he hates LA. LA is home. Hell is just an awful place. Once Stark gets going again, interacting with Alice and General Semyazah, the sparkle comes back.
Stark is definitely an anti-hero with some arrested development, daddy issues and a massive chip on his shoulder, but after averting two almost apocalypses, Stark is trying to grow up and be less of a monster.
Every day I walk down Hollywood Boulevard and see civilians making themselves crazy worrying about the meetings they’re late for or did they put the rent check in the mail or is their ass starting to sag and I think, “I’ve seen the creaky clockwork that turns the stars and planets. I’ve gotten drunk with the devil and body-slammed angels. I’ve seen the Room of Thirteen Doors at the center of the universe. I know the taste of my own blood as well as you know your favorite wine. I’ve seen so much more than you’ll ever see.
And then it hits me like a runaway semi. I don’t know anything that matters.
As angry as he is at God, and as comfortable as he is with violence, he isn’t interested in burning down the world in a pissing match with Mason. Once he accepted that Alice was dead, a part of him let go of revenge against Mason. It makes Stark a more compelling character. He’s never going to “do the right thing,” like Harry Dresden, but he will if it will piss off the right people, or to save a handful of people, or all the hellions in Hell.