Fiction - Humor/Comedy
144 Pages
Reviewed on 03/27/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Zero by Al Schnupp, Maxie believes her husband Zero should have bigger dreams than driving Pa Zero's Muck Truck for a living. Besides, if they had more money she could eat in top-knife restaurants and resuscitate herself in spas. Maxie convinces Zero to run for Icon in Weasledork, the capital of Groad. The current Icon, Rodney Ricochet, plans to retire after the end of his current term in office to spend his time building sandcastles on the beach. Before they can execute their plans, they must commit the most immoral crime to fund their mission. With Horace Hickbourne, the slick and dynamic Chairman of the Ratchet Party, by their side, Maxie and Zero begin their campaign to revitalize Groad. Although Horace is known as a miracle worker, Zero and Maxie prove difficult candidates to transform. The trio must resort to every scam, cover-up, and trick to convince the people of Groad that Zero will be a first-rate Icon. With Inspector Oodles and his assistant Minnie determined to expose Zero for his immoral crime, will Maxie and Zero ever realize their dream of Icon?

Zero by Al Schnupp is such an inventive and unique novel filled with laugh-out-loud comedic moments from the outset. The characters are extremely memorable and their dialogue highlights their personalities perfectly. The author can make even a death and funeral scene hysterical with phrases, 'What caused him to fizzle?' I also loved the description of the sculptor by Maxie as a 'corpse fondler'. The entire novel is fast-paced, sharp, and witty. There is also a great examination of human behavior in many of the characters, such as arrogance, paranoia, immorality, and bombastic behavior. Zero was totally delusional and his misplaced sense of self was made even worse with encouragement from the shrewd Horace. There was no end to the embarrassment as the trio fell from one calamity to the next. Zero's manifesto to lock up The Bogeyman, manufacture more erasers, and outlaw boorish behavior was fantastic. I loved the ingenious ways Inspector Oodles used to try to trap Zero, they were so funny and inventive. There is a very serious and worrying message within the plot also. How one fool with no political background can manipulate and deceive their way into power. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves dry humor and political satire.

Jon Michael Miller

In Zero by Al Schnupp, Zero is a grossly overweight “muck-truck” driver for his father’s expansive porta-potty business in the city of Groad, the nation of Orb. Zero is fond of stuffing himself with pork rinds as he watches the Dazzle Box (TV). His wife Maxie knits furiously. The current Icon (president) of Orb is Rodney Richochet, and Horace Hickbone, a political consultant, thinks Zero will make a good candidate because Zero’s dad is the richest man in the country. The only problem: they will have to get Pa out of the way. The plan is to assassinate Pa by asphyxiating him with porta-potty fumes while he’s asleep. They will have to get by Kippy, Pa’s two-legged chihuahua (his rear end is in a cart). But if they manage to pull off the murder, Zero will inherit Pa’s fortune, and as Orb’s richest man, Zero will be a logical candidate to become the Icon of Orb. All this is just the beginning of Mr. Schnupp’s brilliant political farce.

The plot of Zero by Al Schnupp, however, is not what carries this fast-moving circus. What carries it is Mr. Schnupp’s mind-boggling comedic use of language, which starts in the first sentence and doesn’t end until the final period. It soon enveloped me in outbursts of laughter. For one thing, there’s the English spoken in the nation of Orb. I was flooded with malapropisms: coffins for coffers; immorality for immortality. Also, blatant misnomers: a violent salami hit the west coast; I’ll see that your carcass is treated with utmost abrasion. Substitutions, too: ding dongs for money; poohs and pahs for applause; ink splotch for a newspaper; de-fizz for kill. And the characters’ names: Inspector Oodles; Miss Greede. Mr. Schnupp never lets up with his hilarious mutilation of the English language. I laughed with tears in my eyes.

Foluso Falaye

Maxie desires that her husband, Zero, has a higher ambition than to drive a Muck Truck. Consequently, she pushes him to commit a crime to campaign politically for the position of "Icon" and leader of "the most pugnacious country in the orb." Horace Hickborne, Chairman of the Ratchet Party, agrees to manage Zero's campaign. Eventually, the three embark on a campaign, alongside other parties, and go on to participate in debates, give speeches, plot and play dirty political games, and more. At the same time, a couple consisting of private detective Oodles—the mastermind of cheap disguises—and his assistant, Minnie, aims to expose Zero's crimes. Inspired by political shenanigans and cultural idiosyncrasies and narrated with colorful, bubbly words, Zero by Al Schnupp combines playfulness and preposterousness to reveal several hidden truths.

From the most absurd campaign slogans to the funniest words I've seen from one source, Zero had me gasping with shock, laughing hysterically, and at the same time, discovering some deep meanings in the many hidden messages included in the book. I appreciated the attention to detail; though Zero is humble at the beginning, he becomes egotistic as the story progresses and his campaign grows. The satirical work is delivered with irony, unpredictable twists and turns, and a greatly enthralling, fast moving pace and includes deceit, betrayal, murder (nothing graphic), flattery, and power. Besides the humor, I found many parts quite brilliant and satisfying to unravel. Additionally, several words in the book are entertaining on their own. Even words that are normally uninteresting are used amusingly. Readers who love to make light of serious situations and laugh to release tension should read this unique book by Al Schnupp.