After saving the world in Apocalypse Now Now, sixteen-year-old Baxter Zevcenko is off to school at Hexpoort to begin his training in magical abilities for recruitment into the ultra-secretive MK6. Unfortunately for Baxter, it’s not going to be a very easy semester… MK6 agents are winding up dead, and rebellion is fermenting within the community of The Hidden thanks to the work of the mysterious Muti Man. Oh, and Baxter has to endure the bullying of The Chosen One who thinks Baxter may have stolen his thunder by doing battle with an interdemensional villain last time around. Hexpoort is, after all, high school, even with a militaristic boot camp bent.
Kill Baxter is seriously entertaining stuff, with a number of laugh-out-loud moments. There’s a passing similarity to the Harry Potter series, as Baxter is a smart and gifted young man, but imminently more foul-mouthed, manipulative, aggressive, and sarcastic than that Hogwart’s fellow. And his best friend is a violent alcoholic. So, yeah, there’s that. Although Baxter is making a conscious effort at being a better man and attending a pornography addiction anonymous group, it’s his battles against the Muti Man that will prove to be the most challenging aspect of his journey toward self-discovery.
Returning to narrate is David Atlas, whose performance I enjoyed quite a bit. He brings a terrific amount of effort to the production, and voices Baxter exceedingly well. He also gives the secondary characters their own unique voices and inflections without hitting any false notes. My only complaint is that there were often some strangely long pauses throughout the narrative, section breaks not withstanding. I often thought Atlas was giving us breathing room between section breaks within a chapter, only to discover he was taking a break between paragraphs. It was a bit jarring, but thankfully this didn’t occur too often during dialogue exchanges. Still, it was enough to make me speed up the play-through, and I found that listening to this audiobook at 1.25X was preferable.
As far as the writing goes, Charlie Human has a terrific voice and puts some interesting spins on his passages. I couldn’t help but smile when one character finally admitted that positive thinking just wasn’t his thing, and a particular sewer monster that figures into the book’s climax was well and nastily rendered. The Baxter books are clearly becoming a series that I’ll be sticking with for the long-haul, and Human introduces a few story threads in Kill Baxter that are clearly setting up a much larger story for the next book. The hints we’re given here have me itching for quite a lot more, and I can only hope that the wait isn’t too long.
[Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com]