John Taylor is back in the 10th Nightside novel. I really, really wanted it to be good. I struggled in some ways with Just Another Judgement Day, and this time I wanted Green to write his way out of the corner he seems to have got himself stuck in.
The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny follows the same format as the last book. We start out with a little mini side adventure, with John Taylor escorting an Elf (of all things) across the Nightside with a trusty companion and plenty of examples of how powerful, ruthless and deadly he is. There’s no tension, it’s clearly a side story, giving us a little bit of background and setting the ground work for some later stuff. Sadly, it’s also tiresome. Green just can’t get past telling and retelling the same things about the same Nightside locations over and over again.
Each time Taylor goes somewhere, new or old, we are given a long list of the weird, wonderful and sinful things that happen there; the crazy, dangerous and sad people who reside there. Every time it’s a freak’s menagerie of terrible beings, and it’s boring. If you’ve read the previous nine books you don’t need to hear it again, and if you’ve not, then none of this book will make sense anyway. I don’t need to be reminded what the Street of the Gods is like, nor do I need yet another description of the reason why the Church of St. Jude is the place to go for Truth. We’ve seen and read about taxi’s having to eat their way off the roads before. It’s not new, and it just gets in the way of the actual tale.
Once the side story is out of the way, we get into the story proper, Larry Oblivion is looking for his little brother Tommy and he wants John to help. This sounded promising, and I thought we might be getting somewhere, but then we get an entire chapter from the point of view of Larry, telling a story that yes, is probably important, but is just not interesting. I don’t read these books to listen to Larry telling a story, I read the books to hear about John Taylor. Anyway. Must stay clam.
We then go on the standard goose chase, and there’s Walker, Some New Mighty Being (Larry’s older brother), The Collector, and some other old favourites. And every time John goes some place, we are given another adjective rich description of it and the people inhabiting it.
Through all of this there are whispers and hints that Excalibur is coming to the Nightside, and the Big Reveal at the end of the last book is followed up on in this one (which I won’t reveal any more detail of, since it’s a significant spoiler).
Eventually, the story is resolved, the Big Reveal is tidied up, and John gets something in the post.
The last 20 or 30 pages for me, are the only reason to read the whole book. I can’t reveal too much because it will spoil the little enjoyment you might get from reading, but even then, to me, it was pretty obvious what was going on and John should have seen it coming.
So, no character development here, and in combination with the last book, a tiny amount of overall progression in the grand story. I think Green’s editor should have had serious words and condensed books 9 and 10 into a single short story.
Should you read it? Your call, I’m going to read book 11 for two reasons, the Big Reveal makes it worth it and because I already own it.
The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny is predictable, repetitive and ultimately disappointing. Which is a great shame, because Green is capable of so much more, and the Nightside and the characters in it deserve a better story.