I don’t actually know what happened or how it happened & why it happened but I had fun, I think.
You ever read a book where the character is so utterly ridiculous and the narrative is so out-of-this-world insane? I was on a wild ride with Casper Pearl’s Chuck Steak. Described as a satirical action thriller, Chuck Steak is everything a 90s action movie would be, including the absolutely insane action scenes, the killer one-liners and the twist and turns of the plot – I felt like I was reading a Bruce Willis-esque movie.
Chuck Fucking Steak (yes, he legally changed his name) gives me Bruce Willis vibes and maybe even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kind of like their love child, with a dash of Sylvester Stallone one-liners and some Jason Statham-inspired stunts. Basically, it’s a roller-coaster of epic proportions. Before I delve into the review aspect of this post, I’ll provide the synopsis of Chuck Steak that can be also viewed on Goodreads:
Death once had a near-Chuck experience.
Meet Chuck Steak. His insides are well done. He’s a cop, but not just any. He’s the best. Hasn’t been one like him since the ‘90s. Won’t work with partners and disregards the collateral damage his boss is always screaming about.
Chuck Steak is USDA Prime badass, so having a bomb planted inside Mia, his secret, longtime girlfriend who’s been dreaming of marriage for almost a decade, should be just another day at the office. The problem is, an elusive villain challenges Chuck to deliver Mia’s dream wedding within a week’s time, or she’ll blow.
Overwhelmed with “girly tasks”, Chuck’s forced out of his action-heavy comfort zone and into scenarios which require words instead of bullets. One results in the loss of his right hand, and when it’s replaced with a black hand, this white cop (now .65% black) encounters a new kind of villain: racism.
With time against him, Chuck will have to find a non-violent way to convince the love of his life and her disapproving family that this isn’t another publicity stunt—that after all of these years, it’s finally time to ditch the legacy he’s been slaving over in favor of the family she’s always dreamed of. All while overcoming unexpected hurdles like his own department and their trigger-happy mentality toward minorities, backstories, a feminist gang, incredibly friendly Muslims, dementia, depression, gender equality, and trying to maintain action-orientated roots in an increasingly politically correct world.
CHUCK STEAK is a violent, brutally honest satire of our very diverse, yet segregated society. It attempts to seamlessly blend themes of love and hate while examining the reasoning behind people’s sometimes idiotic actions. All while turning tropes on their heads and obliterating stereotypes with explosions
It has taken me some time to piece together a coherent review for this post and, although it may not seem coherent, this is the best I could do because there is so much to unpack with Chuck Steak.
There was no doubt that this book had me in stitches. By the very first page, I was laughing out loud. Chuck Steak is a hilariously selfish and narcissistic man but, goddamnit, he is freakin funny. His antics, his reasons for his actions, and just the overall way he goes about his duties – is so ridiculous it’s a masterpiece. Chuck acts as both the character and the vehicle of socio-political commentary. Through Chuck, we as the readers, interact and engage with all sections of society which hint at or extrapolate upon, real modern social issues such as segregation, homelessness, racism and classism. Through him, we observe the effects of racism and white privilege in the way that Chuck talks with, engages and acts with different characters. Although there are times that the ‘jokes’ fall flat in the way that they rely on racial stereotypes, I believe that that exactly was the point Casper Pearl was trying to make. In that, to deconstruct racial stereotypes we need to understand why they are offensive and how they work towards demeaning and segregating people based on race and culture.
Chuck himself acknowledges the racism, supposed to be emphasised through the fact that he now has a ‘black hand’ after his own was blown off, but does so in a way that is stereotypical of white people: he understands it exists but if it doesn’t effect his immediate vicinity, he brushes it off. Chuck is supposed to be the caricature of the White Man in Law Enforcement; he never takes responsibility for his actions, or if he does there is always an excuse, he is extremely selfish and narcissistic. He isn’t completely likeable, in fact, the omniscient narrator acknowledges Chuck’s unlikeability, but again, that is the point. This novel is not meant to be one where you fall in love with the characters, instead, it’s written without a care of that – the characters within the narrative are representative of some of the most seediest sections of society and some of the most pathetic and hypocritical.
In terms of the narrative itself, it’s a wild ride. I don’t know how to describe it other than that. I did thoroughly enjoy that the story was told through an omniscient narrator who kind of broke the fourth wall – it was great and reminded me of Jay Kristoff’s Godsgrave in how the narrator interacts with the reader. In terms of the plot itself, it was good in the sense that it moved fairly quickly but I seemed to find myself disengaged at some points – because I didn’t feel that connection with the characters, even if that was the point. The twists and turns were interesting and I certainly didn’t expect the ending, however, even then I was wondering why? The criminal mastermind was interesting but again, by the end I didn’t really care about it and it kind of seemed anticlimactic, in a sense?
I just felt like I should’ve had a more emotional reaction to the unveiling of the criminal mastermind, but I was just like ‘oh, didn’t see that coming’ and moved on. I am hoping that the sequel will help quench that feeling I have at the moment of just, needing more to finish the story off. Though I don’t like the character of Chuck Steak, I am hoping he has a happy ending. I feel like he deserves that much.
Casper Pearl has an unnerving ability to write with rawness and truth. Chuck Steak is a hilarious take on an action thriller and proves how fiction have the ability to explore, consider and emphasise real-life social and political issues. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars! If you enjoy unpredictable action thriller, kick-ass insane characters and an unpredictable Moriarty-esque criminal mastermind, then this the book for you.
Well, that’s it for today friends! Until next time, happy reading!
NOTE: I would like to personally thank the author Casper Pearl for graciously giving me a copy of Chuck Steak in exchange for an honest review.