Uncle Dexter, who believed he was the exiled king of Mars, is dead. Mom wants Adam Weiss to come home for the funeral. Adam would rather stay in the fraternity house at the University of Michigan and play his Xbox, but mom wants him to come home to Rhode Island. Adam might have gotten his way if his twin sister, Anna, hadn’t suggested picking her up on the way and then playing the dad card.

Guilt is a powerful motivator and Adam can’t dodge his sister like he can his mother. The next day finds him driving his green Escort to Oberlin, Michigan where he picks up Anna before getting lunch at a local Denny’s. They eat and get back on the interstate for a while until the gastric effects of his meal take over and Adam desperately searches for a rest stop. He finds one and quickly discovers that lower intestine relief can have severe consequences.

Like his car stolen and his sister kidnapped.

Like the fact that the world will end on next Wednesday, Christmas Eve, when this maniac pulls the trigger on 12 nuclear weapons.

At least the bad guy left his own truck behind so Adam does have a vehicle to start chasing the bad guy and his sister.

What follows is a surreal tale that only works depending on the sense of humor level of the reader. Humor is a tricky thing for authors to get right. Chris Grabenstein does it well with the early books of his Ceepak series. Harlan Coben did it with the early books of the Bolitar series. In both cases, the author had the humor come about naturally under real life circumstances with believable characters and their interaction.

The humor here fails that test because the humor is forced and consists of eccentricity and absurdity. This isn’t the humor of Monty Python either which frequently bordered on the absurd. Even with Monty Python stuff, the humor came about because of character interaction built on the original premise that was absurd or otherwise. In most cases, it wasn’t scenarios where the absurd built upon the absurd and continued to build absurdity upon absurdity. Such is not the case here in this mess of a novel.

After a strong beginning, the novel quickly deteriorates into a quagmire of nonsense fueled by absurdity and eccentricity in the extreme. Every character of any stature, besides Adam and his missing sister, is eccentric to the extreme and totally absurd. Every scenario and or plot twist is over the top as well a case study of giving the book the barest grounding in crime, mystery genres or thriller genres. That grounding, evident in the early part of the book, is quickly thrown out along with any concept of logic or sense of plot. Instead, the read comes down to taking every story point and imagining the most absurd thing and then seeing if the author is going to be even more extreme. In most cases, the answer is an affirmative and the reader is left to wade through yet another ludicrous scenario that is supposedly funny and yet fails the humor test. Nothing is straight forward in this book that constantly screams at the reader just how funny the book is and how mad cap nearly everyone involved is while the fate of the world is at stake.

Fans of the absurd carried to extremes will appreciate this novel, while those readers that prefer a more straight forward crime/murder/thriller novel will find it extremely tough going. According to the book jacket, “Nuclear Winter Wonderland” is going to “soon be a major motion picture” via the screenplay also written by the author. If the movie ever comes out, it will be interesting to see if a movie version of the work is much better than the original book. It certainly doesn’t seem possible that the movie could be worse than the book.


Nuclear Winter Wonderland

Joshua Corin


Kunati, Inc.



288 Pages



Book provided by Publicist PJ Nunn, owner of BreakThrough Promotions, in exchange for my objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009

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