Raise the Gipper by John Barnes

Raise the Gipper!Raise the Gipper! by John Barnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Raise the Gipper by John Barnes.

I think a lot of people fantasized about having different options to vote for last election, especially on the republican side, where it seemed like their primary consisted of a desperate plea to find the “anybody but Romney” candidate. Set during the 2012 Republican National Convention, “Raise the Gipper” offers what might have been, if they had access to dark forces and extra dimensional aliens.

As republicans lament their choices, Dr. Bayle Brazenydol gives them what they really want: A chance to have their dream candidate, not a new Ronald Reagan, but the original one in the resurrected flesh. Zombie Reagan, or as he prefers, a “room temperature risen American”, immediately takes control of the convention and literally pushes Romney out the door. Commentators on Fox News are ecstatic and quick to overlook minor details like 1) He’s dead and 2) Having already served two terms as president; Reagan is ineligible to run again.

Of course Brazenydol isn’t what he seems. He’s one of the Faceless Ones, ancient beings from another dimensional bent on destroying humanity. But is Zombie Reagan here to help them in their plan or does he have plans of his own? And will Nancy return his calls?

Opposing Zombie Reagan and the Faceless Ones are Joe, a Tea Party conservative, and Aura, a self-described witch and member of the Occupy Movement. Despite their political differences, Joe and Aura are friends, living in the same apartment building and having bonded over their mutual love of their cats. Helping Aura is a carpenter named Jessie who is also dating Aura’s roommate.

“Raise the Gipper” is a light, relatively short novel full of political satire. While it does poke fun at democrats and liberals, the focus is clearly on the republicans. Some of the best scenes involve Newt Gingrich making the mistake of tell Reagan, “The best thing I can offer your campaign is my brain,” a pregnant Rick Santorum, and a hapless aide who has to explain to Sarah Palin that “literally” doesn’t mean, “figuratively, but more intense.” There’s a lot of fun here.

The main weakness of the book is that the ostensible protagonists are almost superfluous. They spend more time watching events unfold on TV than taking action and even when they’re in the thick of things, they’re often little more than observers. Plus, there never is any mystery surrounding Jessie’s real identity.

Still, the political humor is what sells this book, with the best satire on par with The Daily Show or a good Saturday Night Live sketch. If you like political satire that reads like a love child of H. P. Lovecraft and George Romero, I’d recommend picking this one up.

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One thought on “Raise the Gipper by John Barnes

  1. Thanks so much! It’s always a pleasure when one whips up a chocolate silk pie to have it appreciated as such, and not to have people complain about its lack of nutritional value or its failings as a building foundation!

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