Brand New Cherry Flavor by Todd Grimson, narrated by Marguerite Gavin

Brand New Cherry Flavor is a book packed with originality and uniqueness. There’s a potential within this story, a barely suppressed tension and horror seething just below the surface, that sadly never quite reaches fruition. My comment on wasted potential is not to suggest I didn’t enjoy the story because it was surprisingly enjoyable. I feel almost as though the lack of gratification or fulfillment was an intentional stroke by the author. Consider it a page from the Bret Easton Ellis playbook, metafictional and intentionally subverting the expectation of the readers.
Lisa Nova is, for the most part, not a likable character. Throughout the narrative, she fluctuates between appearing vapid and slyly witty while perpetually coming across as shallow. Being unlikeable does not, however, make her unsympathetic. Witnessing as her life spins out of control with an increasing cost in collateral damage, it would be challenging to dismiss her plight.
We join the tale just as Lisa’s passed over for a promised role as the Assistant Director on a major film project. This position had been promised to her by Lou Burke, the man she’d been having an affair with up until that point. As a concession, her now-former lover sends her to meet with people who will capitalize on her looks by paying her to star in a pornography adjacent film. Lou Burke, or as Lisa repeatedly refers to him, “Lou Greenwood, Lou Adolph, Lou Burke,” is a class act. He deserves to have a fork stabbed into his leg.
Incensed, and seeking revenge, Lisa goes to her ex-boyfriend, Code, to inquire about a hitman she’d heard about through him. This leads her to Boro, and the rest of the story evolves in its phantasmagoric way from that interaction.
Traveling from Hollywood to Brazil, from Brazil to New York, and from New York back to Hollywood, Lisa discovers that Boro has not only taken the job of destroying Lou Burke–and his family–but is also providing Lisa with the power to shape the world around her in ways many people could only dream of.
Psychic tattoos, a mythological white jaguar, zombies (of the voodoo variety), drugs of all flavors and varieties, magical filmmaking, mirrors that show the past, and a garden of human limbs are only some of the more bizarre elements of this story.
Though I enjoyed this book a good deal less than I would have liked, I can certainly understand the appeal it has for other readers/listeners.
The audiobook narration supplied by Marguerite Gavin made the story more enjoyable than it might have been without such a competent narrator. She certainly managed to fully convey the character of Lisa Nova better than I think many narrators could.


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