Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Perdy, Vol. 2 by Kickliy

I'm sorry to admit that I may like the idea of the Perdy series better than I like the actual books. Oh, the books are solid French-Western adventure stories, full of gunfights and robberies and evil schemers with noses that look like butts, centered on the brick-house force-of-nature title character. But the story here is pretty straightforward, the conflicts obvious, and the beats hit really, really hard to make sure the reader doesn't miss anything or need to catch anything subtle.

I was pretty positive about the first book, so this could be just me getting my expectations too high based on memories burnished in retrospect. And second books frequently are not as groundbreaking and new as the first one was, by definition.

So that's my initial set of reactions to Perdy, Vol. 2 by the American/French cartoonist credited as Kickliy. Initial enthusiasm, reading the book with interest and excitement, a slight letdown when done that might be mostly my own fault.

The first book set up the situation: Perdy is a middle-aged gunslinger built on the epic scale, fond of bank-robbing, vigorous sex, and doing exactly whatever the hell she pleases in any given moment. She got out of prison at the beginning of the first book after fifteen years, and set out to get her old gear back and reconnect with her daughter. That daughter, now named Rose - that's a plot and character issue - is more conventionally feminine, though not necessarily more law-abiding, or less able with firearms.

This book is more vague in its plot than the first: Perdy wants Rose to assist her in a criminal scheme, but Rose already has a pretty good deal going in this small town, with all of the single men wrapped around her finger and a good living rolling in, probably entirely legally. Oh, there is the butt-faced villain (Big Richard) lurking around, who wants to claim Rose for his own, and he would screw things up even if Perdy weren't energetically screwing other things up at the same time. But the book is more about what those three characters are doing, iteratively, than about any larger plotline - and those three are all pretty reactive here, with Big Richard and Perdy being particularly headstrong and inclined to random activity at any given moment.

So this is a book with a lot of stuff happening, but it mostly circles instead of building to a crescendo. The status quo is completely shattered at the end, and presumably the third book will start somewhere else, with Perdy and Rose working together out of necessity.

There's also quite a lot of flashing back to Perdy's younger life, especially in the early part of the book, and an odd flashback-to-dream transition that isn't super-clear when it happens. I found myself wishing Kickliy had given some more structure to the story: Perdy is a run-roughshod-over-everything character, but that doesn't mean the narrative needs to follow that same pace and style.

All in all: this is a solid Western about a fun main character with massive flaws that are almost entirely the opposite of what any other book expects from female characters. For that alone, the Perdy series is awesome.

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