I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. All I knew was that I found Yahtzee Croshaw’s reviews at Zero Punctuation to be pretty funny. I’d acquired Mogworld and Jam via Humble ebook bundles. I’m not sure, but I think they were in two different bundles. I can’t remember. Anyway, after looking at all the descriptions, it appeared that Jam was just Croshaw’s next novel, not a sequel to Mogworld. So, since the description of Mogworld sounded a little too close to what I do for a living, I went with Jam. It is a standalone book. I ALMOST changed my mind when one of the characters in Jam turned out to be a Mogworld developer, but that was of no consequence. The character may or may not be in both books, but it appears they merely take place in the same universe without any part of Mogworld being necessary before reading jam.
It was interesting that Jam was written in the first person. It’s been a while since I read a book in first person (Red Rising is in the first person, but I’m listening to that in parallel to this one) What makes Jam so incredible to me and made it an automatic 4 stars minimum is that the narrator/main character of Jam is an idiot. He’s a sympathetic idiot, and rarely does it become so grating that you wish for his death.
The next half of a star comes from both the British humor and the setting of Australia. Rarely do I get to read a book set in Australia with Australian protagonists. More often it’s America, England, or some sci-fi/fantasy setting. Just like the Canadians, I thoroughly enjoy this culture that is so close to American, but slightly different. It was also fun, for a change, to have the Americans be the antagonists.
The final half star comes from the fact that Croshaw has a few twists and turns with his narrative. He does what the best comedy writers do – puts the comedy in service of the story, not the other way around. There is genuine pathos and genuine drama to Jam. But, more than that, Croshaw keeps you guessing. This is truly an apocalyptic story – it hits all the beats: the mystery of how it happened, the new society, the death of those who aren’t genre savvy.
If the Venn diagram of people who like apocalyptic stories and British humor has you in the overlapping section, you should buy this book and read it ASAP.