Book Review: The Teleporter By Lee Hall (4 Stars)
A humorously crass story of a drunkard turned superhero.
Hall has created a realistic world in which corporations hold the power and the common man has little control over his own life, until fate elects a portion and hands it over in the form of teleportation karma. The transformation of our main character, Kurt, is depicted with a perfect amount of stumbles, physical and emotional, and leaves us rooting for him as he finds his new place in society.
The voice isn’t hindered by formalities; it is free and true to character and, yes, littered with curses. But it fits so perfectly with Kurt’s sarcastic/apathetic personality that it is hard to be bothered by it.
The story picks up quickly and doesn’t linger too long in any one scene. Hall has done a great job at keeping a smooth pace and throwing in just enough detail to encourage us to continue reading without bogging us down. If you’re not used to reading an Irish accent, give it a chapter or two.
The Teleporter was a fun ride that I would recommend to anyone that enjoys shorter scifi stories involving average-joe superheros, technology, and characters that simultaneously banter and care.
Summary (Spoiler Alert!):
The beginning might throw you for a loop because it sounds a lot like the author is breaking the fourth wall. That’s how genuine the voice of our main character, Kurt, is. And he is a complete drunk, a jerk, and is funny as hell. With a love life and a job that are both dead-ends, Kurt relies on booze and his imagination for entertainment. But like all superheroes, Kurt has an endearing quality. Beneath all the swears and drink, he has a conscience and doesn’t truly want anyone to get hurt. He just doesn’t know anything different.
Kurt works for a company called Liqui-tech as essentially their social media marketer/outreach guy. During a planned media event, Kurt runs into his next-door neighbor, Casey. As a journalist, she’s a skeptic and can’t believe their company’s teleportation project doesn’t produce any toxic waste. When Kurt is assigned media coverage for that specific project, Casey’s words get to him. He finds himself soon doing his own recon and, inevitably, succumbing to a vat of the liquid… and scrambling out of the opposite tank.
After sleeping for several days, Kurt awakens to discover he can teleport around his house just by thinking about the refrigerator etc. Learning to teleport and keep his clothes on is a trick he has to learn the hard way. And, ironically, his beloved alcohol is his kryptonite. This made the character’s struggle much more complicated. He can no longer rely on his usual “out” and must learn to cope with his new life on his own. In his jubilee over becoming a superhero, he goes out and makes a big deal about being a superhero in front of a bar full of people. But his efforts in protecting a girl—who’d had her drink spiked—prove he is worthy of said powers.
Teaming up with Casey across the hall, they return to Liqui-tech to search for evidence they can use to hold Mr. Williams, the owner, accountable for. His family owns most of the town, and they disrespect most of the people they come into contact with. Casey and Kurt are caught and put through their own interrogation. Kurt is beaten and thrown out, which brings him new perspective on the divide between upper and lower classes. Emotional over the matter, Kurt returns to his favorite bar and basically tells everyone the teleporter thing was a stunt and they should all go home instead of spending the night out drinking. As mentioned before, Kurt has a heart, though sometimes it can seem buried.
On a walk, Kurt meets two old men, one of which he defends from Mr. William’s entitled brat-of-a-son and takes quite a beating for it. The other who offers Kurt some wisdom on the matter of his skill set. Feeling empowered again, Kurt records a video threat to Mr. Williams and begins practicing his teleporting skills for means of hand-to-hand combat.
A group of his closest companions gather around him demanding it is time for some action because Casey has been taken. They end up infiltrating Liqui-tech with literally no plan. Finding Casey is the next experiment and that Mr. Williams as created teleportation biotech for himself, the crew is thrown into a frenzied series of attacks and defenses ultimately ending in the testing facility. There, Casey is subjected to the teleportation tanks plus a car battery. When she emerges again from the muck as Kurt holds her, she is shot twice… and uncovers her own ability. She’s bulletproof.
Kurt’s former supervisor (before being fired from Liqui-tech), Marcus, ends up being a member of the FBI and has recorded everything. William’s is taken away, and Marcus therein becomes the mentor/guide to Kurt and Casey.
This book was hilarious, though I’m not usually a laugh-out-loud type. I’m more of the chuckle type. The emotional range didn’t include major moments of anger (which I think would’ve completed the spectrum), but this made for an easier, laid-back type of read.
It was entertaining to find a book about a realistic man that had something supernatural happen to him. We all want to feel like there is this possibility, this hope, that some miracle will pull us out of the muck of everyday life, and we’ll be able to finally change the world. All too often superheroes are from rich families or royalty or gods. Kurt is an unlikely option in our stereotypical world. But here, we get to see him in action. Hope and humor thrive together in The Teleporter.