Spoiler Free Summary: A Climbing Stock is one of two books (unrelated) by Andrew Hiller. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and befriending Andrew as well as reviewing his other novel, A Halo of Mushrooms. Stop me if you heard this one. John, a small businessman, is forced to sell his Corporation of Ordinary Wares. (Do you see it yet?) Instead of selling it to any one of the corporations offering him actual money for his company, John sells COW for 3,000 shares in a stack called Biomicroscopy Endoscopic Arterial NeuroSurgery. (One of those isn’t even a word, and I’m certain there are no arterial veins related to neurosurgery, but have you figured out the plot yet?)
Imagine John’s surprise when those stocks shoot up?
Character: John is a beautifully naive character. Blissfully ignorant and yet charmingly heroic. It’s been a minute since I’ve read this book, but I have to admit every character is charming in his or her own witty way. Hiller has a knack for charming, and this book is no exception.
Exposition: I’ll admit Andrew get’s a little heavy handed here, but there’s a purpose to this. His wordplay is brilliant, but it can’t survive in dialogue alone. The humor of said word-play is more than fair compensation for the slightly higher-than-average exposition.
Worldbuilding: It takes true intelligence to take one of the oldest, most over-told stories and make it unique. Hiller does that. In every aspect of the world is a slight twist of a phrase or term that makes it an amusing aspect of a (frankly) brilliant setting. In a world buried in dark, gritty fantasy, Hiller gives readers a pleasant place to escape to, which I feel makes him unique.
Dialogue: This is where the bulk of his clever word-play happens. Reading this dialogue makes me feel like I’m in the world’s greatest dinner theatre, watching the actors play out a scene, winking because they know I get the joke, and I feel like it’s a secret between just me and them.
Description: There are a few parts here that got a bit muddy, but I’d say the description in this book was better than that of his other novel. The sounds and feelings in this book are more visceral. Even as the plot grows more pleasantly ridiculous, one still feels like he’s right there with the character, even if he’s swimming in a bowl of a giant’s soup.
Overall: As I type this, Stock is currently my third favorite book for 2017 (Mageborn being the first, and Flash Point being the second). It takes true intelligence to take something I’d though worn out and breath new life into it by showing us the story through an original character’s eyes. John feels like a cross between Mr. Bean and The Man Who Knew Too Little. I just couldn’t get enough of his antics. Throw so many clever turns of phrases, and you have yourself a book that anyone who just wants to be happy and entertained should definitely pick up.
Thanks for reading