Book Review: Black Plastic by Ryan Kirtz

Black Plastic by Ryan Kirtz was an … interesting book. When I began to read it, I thought it was certainly going to be a single star (and thus not reviewed publicly). However, as I read, I found it funny enough to keep turning the pages. Kirtz dances the line of comic genius and idiot very well. Just when I would think I had figured out which he was, the events would make me question my decision. I mulled over how to rate it for a couple of days before deciding to rate it ★★★★☆ but with the caveat that it only earned those four stars for a very narrow audience. Did you like Airplane!? If so, this book might be for you. Below is my Reader’s Favorite review:

Black Plastic is the story of four friends, Bill, Corbin, Ryan and Shane, who are visited by aliens and chosen to be ambassadors for the human race based solely on the fact that they are ridiculously high at the time. When they realize that the aliens’ intentions are more nefarious than they let on, the group sets out on a journey to collect VHS copies of the seven worst movies ever made to combat the evil. Armed with nothing more than their wits, a 1996 Geo Metro and a huge bag of weed, their unlikely adventure leads them to impossible locations through space and time (never missing a chance to stop at McDonald’s), with government agents always hot on their trail. They have only 48 hours to save the human race.

Ryan Kirtz’s Black Plastic is to literature as Airplane! is to cinema: The story is unbelievable, the heroes are improbable, the events are impossible, and the laws of physics simply don’t apply. Yet, I found myself loving it anyway. Pure farce in every sense of the term, Black Plastic doesn’t attempt to make a believable story, instead taking every opportunity to work in puns, movie references and pop culture jokes. Kirtz knows the story and events are unbelievable, as he has the primary characters question how they are doing some of the things they are doing during the story. Kirtz takes it even further by breaking down the fourth wall on several occasions to talk to the reader directly about the impossibility of it all. While the story is certainly not for everyone, Kirtz courts his target audience well. If you are looking for a story that is believable, or possible, or even plausible, this one probably isn’t what you’re looking If, however, you are a fan of farce or over-the-top parodies, Black Plastic will be right up your alley.

Kirtz’s sense of comedy is very dry, and the book put me in mind of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, but without the polished feel. Hopefully, in time, he will go on to create his own Discworld.

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