Review: Taster’s Choice

Taster's Choice (Chew, Vol. 1)Taster’s Choice by John Layman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, I’m not going to try to explain the plot, because it’s way too complex. Suffice it to say that our hero is a cop who is also a kind of living, breathing, walking path lab and then some. Hence the rather graphic title: when he says he’s going to chew on things, he means it. Now, this isn’t profound, there are (as far as I can tell) no hidden depths, or significant sub-texts. What it is is a beautifully constructed, deliberately chaotic cop story with so many threads being juggled in the air simultaneously that it’s a wonder that the thing doesn’t collapse in a heap. By the end of volume one there are at least three ongoing stories in addition to the basic underlying cop story.

What makes this so great is its irreverence. Start with the art. The art is vaguely realistic some of the time, and our hero always looks sort of naturalistic, but for the other characters it subscribes to the cartoon principles that funny characters are funny shapes, and that characters change shape depending on their emotion. So eyes, mouths, noses all change shape wildly. So, yes, it’s caricature. Case in point: the heroine (I think you can call her that) has a figure that would make a real woman fall over, but where she sticks out, and what shape it is when she does, varies wildly for comic effect (either that or she has the world’s first AI brassiere).

As for the writing, it is brilliant nonsense, with no holds barred when it comes to milking the basic premise (of a world where chicken meat is banned and therefore the subject of organised crime) for every joke it can get. And it sometimes deliberately plays with your expectations by providing multiple versions of an event, just to keep you guessing.  And there’s the nice conceit of every now and then interrupting the narrative to give a brief essay about some character, just so you know some not so useful facts about them.

So, all in all, a great start to a series.

View all my reviews

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