Today I take a look at Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig, the first Atlanta Burns novella.
“Atlanta Burns. Teenage girl with a shotgun. Standing up for the used and abused, the bullied and the beaten. A little bit Veronica Mars. A touch of Raylan Givens. Add a dash of Charles Bronson in Death Wish.” – Chuck Wendig
Atlanta Burns is much more than just a girl with a shotgun. She is a girl who is pushed to the ragged edge of the cliff and pushes back. A pint-sized vigilante with questionable habits and teenage morals. A girl who gets shit done by serving up short-term justice at the end of a gun barrel.
I understand why she does the things she does, the way she does them. I’m not sure if I completely empathize with her, but I certainly sympathize with her. She is damaged, broken, clinging to whatever shards of sanity and humanity she can find. When the fragile remaining tenants of human decency are threatened (a classmate being bullied) she acts with little hesitation and little thought to the consequences.
I give Shotgun Gravy 4 shotgun shells out of 5. Some of the characterization was too clichéd, too stereotypical. I wasn’t sure how I should feel about certain characters and at certain plot points, though it was clearer the second time I read it. That said, I enjoyed this story quite a lot. I want to see more of Atlanta Burns, not because I enjoy vigilante justice but because I want to see her fight her way from that cliff. I want to see her get better, overcome the trauma and the pain. I want to see who Atlanta Burns becomes and how she gets there. I’m rooting for this character to not only survive but to grow. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
The good news is I won’t have to wait too long. The reason I chose to go ahead and review Shotgun Gravy (even though I did Wendig’s Double Dead just a few weeks ago) is because I wanted to say something about Bait Dog. Bait Dog is the second Atlanta Burns novella, except it’s now going to be a full length novel! Chuck Wendig has started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of Bait Dog. There are twenty-four days to go, and even though the initial goal has been reached, you can still pledge. For every $3000 raised beyond the goal, Wendig will write another novel. That means we are $1700 from getting a third Atlanta Burns novel. This is a great opportunity to directly fund something creative. It’s more than buying the book (which is great too) – it’s helping the process.
No final word. Instead I give you two quotes. Both made me cry but for very different reasons.
“Did you know in England they call cigarettes fags?”
“All we are is the measure of our work. You don’t do the work, you’re not worth the measure.”
Next week: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. For real this time.