Head Cleaner

Polis. Jan. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781951709945. pap. $18.95. HORROR/SCIENCE FICTION
Jerry and Eva work in the last surviving Blockbuster video store in a movie-watching world dominated by streaming. Jerry and Eva decide to go after the white whale of delinquent renters, Sunny Delight (not their real name), who nine years ago rented stacks of VHS tapes and the last of their VCRs—never to return; all they have is Sunny’s address. But when Eva and Jerry find the house and liberate their VCR, they open a can of worms. Soon their jerk boss Randy gets pulled into the game. The VCR seems to be able to change the endings of movies, and if the movies are based on real events, history itself is changed. As if that weren’t not freaky enough, it’s followed by men dressed all in black who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Fending them off and escaping alive from the time loop/Matrix world the Blockbuster workers are trapped in is now top priority.
VERDICT Once it gets going, Keaton’s (She Was Found in a Guitar Case) novel is a nonstop thrill ride blending science fiction, horror, and a lot of humor. For readers who enjoy Chuck Palahniuk and Lauren Beukes.
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