Monday, April 11, 2011

Judging a book by its cover

It's entirely possible that I'm too predictable in my interests.  Take a fabulous title, mix in some clever, kitschy art on the front, and I'm in.  I consistently judge books by their covers.  Several weeks ago, a friend at work saw a new book sitting on my desk and said, "I knew you'd be reading that book!" But, really, it was called The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady -- how could I pass that by?  (Of course, if the title and cover art weren't enough, the trailer -- viewable on the book's Amazon page -- clenched the deal.)

Fifty years ago, without her knowledge or consent, Marylou Ahearn was given a radioactive cocktail while she was pregnant.  Her daughter died of cancer ten years later, presumably from the effects of radiation.  The book resolves around Marylou's resolve to kill the doctor who led the radiation study after stumbling across his name and address.  She's not quite sure how to kill him, though.  After moving from Tennessee to Florida, she starts by introducing herself as Nancy Archer (the name of main character in the cult classic Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman) and involving herself in the lives of the doctor's highly dysfunctional family.  She soon learns that the doctor has Alzheimer's disease and is unlikely to remember anything about the study, making revenge far less satisfying for Marylou.  Along the way, her growing relationship with the family further complicates her original plans.

Despite the title, Revenge of the Radioactive Lady is about much more than simply revenge.  It is a sly, darkly comedic novel that probes the dynamics of aging, family, religion, forgiveness, and, yes, even revenge.  If that doesn't make you want to check it out, have you seen the cover? 


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