Reviews > Published on July 12th, 2016

Bookshots: 'Neon Green' by Margaret Wappler

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Neon Green

Who wrote it?

Margaret Wappler, a Los Angeles writer and journalist who co-hosts the podcast, Pop Rocket. Neon Green is her novel debut.

'Neon Green' is a playful and cynical genre-bender.

Plot in a Box:

Imagine suburban Chicago in the 90s, except in this time warp, encounters with UFOs are normal. You can even enter a contest to win a nine-month visit from a flying saucer, which Gabe Allen does without his parents’ permission. When Gabe wins, a whole mess of trouble follows.

Invent a new title for this book:

The Flying Saucer Sweepstakes

Read this if you like(d):

The X-Files and all things 90s nostalgia.  

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Gabe’s dad, Ernest Allen, a deadbeat environmentalist and questionable family man. His obsessive tendencies are more destructive than the flying saucer.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Steve Carell

Setting: would you want to live there?

Prairie Park, a lovely Chicago suburb occupied by aliens and contaminated with carcinogens? Maybe not.

What was your favorite sentence?

She wanted to hate him, so she tried on the hate.

The Verdict:

When I picked up this book, I assumed there would be aliens. What I found instead was something unexpected: a family drama.

The key character of Neon Green is not the flying saucer, though it occasionally entertains by spewing green sludge or omitting the smell of pancakes or Indian curries. (The Allen Family Log tracks these quirks with hilarious precision.) Instead, Ernest Allen propels the novel forward with his paranoia, narcissism, and disregard for others. He is a difficult character to follow, almost impossible to understand.

One thing readers will sympathize with is this: when terrible things happen it’s comforting to have something to blame. Neon Green is a playful and cynical genre-bender. If you are looking for a book about alien invasions or cohabitation attempts, this isn't it. In Wappler’s debut you’ll find a story about family, illness, infidelity, and the shell of regret that stays when things go unresolved.

About the author

Freddie Moore's writing has appeared in Electric Literature, The Paris Review Daily and The Huffington Post. She volunteers at 826NYC and can be found on Twitter at @moorefreddie.

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