There are a lot of really fascinating stories spread throughout this novel.
SECOND STRING SAVIOR is a novel set in the Tome of Bill world. Rick Gualtieri and R. E. Carr have written a story that takes place roughly contemporaneous with the first three Tome of Bill novels, culminating in the latter half of the book taking place during The Mourning Wood. As you can tell by the titles of the books, they’re a comedy urban fantasy series that has a heavy emphasis on crass humor as well as puns.
This novel is surprisingly different from the mainstream Tome of Bill series, though, in large part because the protagonist isn’t a 30-year-old male nerd but a teenage girl. Much to my surprise, the authors did a fantastic job of switching perspectives with Jesse Flores being entirely believable as a girl just entering into adulthood. She’s snarky, geeky, and yet believably “cool” in a way her peers wouldn’t appreciate until after high school.
The premise is that Jesse Flores is an ordinary girl working at a comic book store with her family of MMA fighters as well as Sheriff father. Okay, maybe not so ordinary but Jesse is largely unaware how cool she is. There’s a lot of Buffy homages present and these are all very well done, especially when Jesse gets a witch to tell her she’s the Chosen One destined to save the world from monsters. Except, this is called “False Icons” and we already know from the Tome of Bill series that the legendary Icon is someone else. So what is Jesse?
There’s a lot of really fascinating stories spread throughout this novel. Jesse trying to get her high school rivals’ boyfriend, being courted by a vampire who has seen many romantic movies, and also learning how to fight from her witch former gym teacher. It all leads up to the second half of the novel where Jesse is a secret guest at the peace treaty conference between the Sasquatch and vampire race.
The second half of the novel is very different from the first half and really the two could have been expanded into separate books. I really enjoyed meeting the characters like Burp, Floof (the cuddliest Sasquatch ever), as well as the Dryads. The Dryads form the basis for a lot of the books fun as they are the ones most eager to make sure Jesse achieves her “destiny” while also being a wild hedonistic bunch.
The real heart of this book is the fact that the characters play off one another extremely well. Gary the Witch and Jesse have a good relationship, I like her father’s overprotective but not ridiculous nature, plus there’s the unexpected romantic hints with her archenemy Wyatt. The fact Jesse is someone who doesn’t want to be the Chosen One despite initial enthusiasm is also handled realistically.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and think it’s probably the second best novel in the Tome of Bill universe (the best being Sunset Strip). Jesse Flores is a more likable protagonist than Bill and doesn’t have nearly his issue with sexist comments or being a complete jerk. Take that from someone who likes Bill. I’m eager to see how her journey progresses and what’s going to happen next in the series.