Au Revoir Crazy European Chick

Your typical rock song is a fast paced, loud, youth-in-rebellion anthem about freedom. In that sense, Au Revoir Crazy European Chick is a chart topping rock’n’roll hit that you’ll want to listen to over and over while cranking your speakers to the max. Like a good rock song, it’s fast paced. It’s also jammed with action. The story follows a teenager who has a life changing experience that inspires that need to rebel against the day-to-day acceptance of a dull reality. Schreiber weaves together a tale of violence, mystery, and excitement that sparks a sense of freedom. And in case you’re wondering about all the rock’n’roll allusions, the main character has a band which plays a rather memorable scene in the book and underlines the theme of the story: unpredictable, anything goes, fun.

If you’re familiar with Schreiber’s non-Star Wars books, you’ll notice that this one is marketed as a young adult novel. First off, if you don’t fall into the young adult category, don’t worry. Au Revoir presents characters with the same degree of depth and flaws as his other novels. The main difference is that you won’t find the same level of adult language that Joe used in books like Eat the Dark or Chasing the Dead. You also won’t find any graphic gore, but that’s not to say there isn’t any violence or blood. The topics addressed in Au Revoir are also very serious in nature and worthy of both young and adult groups. Plus we all have an inner child in us, and remembering our younger days can be a fun trip.

The star of Au Revoir is Perry Stormaire, an eighteen year old kid whose graduated from high school and preparing for that big leap to college. He’s life isn’t anything extraordinary. His parents are upper middle class. His life has been pretty smooth and uneventful. But this year his parents decided to host a foreign exchange student named Gobi, and she’s about to rock his world. Gobi isn’t the geeky Lithuanian girl that she appears. She’s an assassin, or as Schreiber put it “a Lithuanian ninja.” What should have been a simple boring night at prom turns into a wild, crazy event that will forever change Perry’s life.

The story itself is a mix of two films. The first three quarters of the book reads like a retelling of the movie Collateral that starred Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. In that movie, Tom Cruise was a hitman who had a taxi driver, Jamie Foxx, driving him around as he made hits around the city. Rearrange this as a Lithuanian exchange student whose the hitman, and an eighteen year old on prom night as the taxi driver, and you can see the change ups that might follow.  There’s even a scene where Gobi loses her data for the hits and has to use Perry to get the info because she can’t have her contacts see her face, just like Tom Cruise did in the movie. Later on the story turns into Liam Neeson’s film Taken before it finally goes off the rails into it’s own. Once everything comes out into the open, the story truly becomes its own adventure. While it borrows ideas from a few films, it combines them with new elements in a way that makes it fun and fresh.

One interesting element that Schreiber included in the book is that each chapter is prefaced by a college/university entrance exam question. For instance: “Discuss a situation or event that helped shape your understanding of your own identity.” Each chapter gets a different question from a different college or university. All of the questions also tie in to the events of the chapter and add an interesting angle. When you read the question it gets you thinking about what’s happening and how it would apply to the question. In a way it provokes an intellectual thread that overlaps the entire story. The reader is slyly tricked into seeing a progression of the main character, as well a hefty dose of irony. The typical answer to each question gets a completely different reply. In the example above, the answer is along the lines of “being kidnapped by an assassin.”

Along with the great characters, and provocative intellectual threads buried within the book, Au Revoir also has some wonderful prose. A good story has deep characters and entertaining plots. A great story takes that and interjects intelligent and inspiring word play. To express a moment of despair, Schreiber writes “One more square peg pounded into the round hole of oblivion.” In another part of the book, he eloquently describes the noise of the rock band on stage, “I looked back at the stage where the ragged, awful noise that wasn’t music had already started dissolving into a bowlegged twang of strings and random cymbal taps, like a stoned octopus slithering through a Guitar Center.” The descriptions elicit a level of detail that drives the meaning home in a way that is truly unique. Lines like that hit you and make you pause for a moment as you just relish the sound of the words pouring off the page.

Where Eat the Dark nailed an inventive horror story, and No Windows, No Doors knocked character development out of the park, Au Revoir does the best of both. It takes a imaginative, fast-paced action story with well developed characters and smashes out a solid hit from start to finish. Au Revoir Crazy European Chick earns a solid five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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