Many believe that high school is a microcosm of a post-apocalyptic world. Groups band together to survive, there’s very little adult authority and what grown-ups are around are ineffectual at best. So why create an artificial one where teenagers are at its center? “H8 Society: How an Atomic Fart Saved the World” begins with a menagerie of characters in an American society close enough for the reader to recognize that everything is in chaos. There’s very little to root for, but each character is complex in a way that no one is truly a snarling villain either. In essence they’re people who are trying to cling on to a reason to continue living.
2Dans creates a world that may begin like a toxic, science fiction version of the Breakfast Club, but this multimedia novel quickly becomes an engagement in some powerful questions that many are too scared to face. Cage, Hard Drive, Load, Wrek and Kara are just trying to survive the onslaught of their lives. Meanwhile, though wealthy and seemingly on the outside have everything together and is admired by most, Boomer Face, Wadd and The Ox’s lives are just as much a heaping load of excrement as their counterparts. Then there’s this inept, ne’er do well terrorist group, The Black Mus’Tasche who takes the credit for an ultraviolent act that decimates a shopping mall, in a most unusual way, with bizarre repercussions. It’s really part of the master plan by Old Man Wadd, an aged cretin who you don’t have to see to be creeped out by. What’s worse is that his son, Wadd craves a real relationship with a man who only sees everything as a commodity to be indiscriminately used. These relationships intersect and between the secret organizations and their master plans, nine teenagers get caught up. They make choices for the most part that are out of their control. And there will be moments that will make you question how does a world come to this? Where we allow so few to be in control of so much?
What makes this novel distinctive is its own built in soundtrack. By “The Inner Scream” chapter the music enhances the context rather than being a distraction. And plays an integral part in the storyline. That fine line between balance and gimmick is carefully towed and is successful. On its own only two or three tracks may have worked, but taken as a whole the music propels the inner-workings of the characters, heightens tension and synthesized the relationship between reading and listening to music. Think of it, at times after reading a novel you’ve probably ventured into your mp3 player to create your own soundtrack. Or, you may have inadvertently heard a song and it may have reminded you of a character or made you flashback to a scene. Still that song doesn’t quite fit. You could listen to DMX’s “Where The Hood At” and still not get the same feeling as “Maximus Decimus Meridius” while reading “H8 Society.”
Remember the Morlocks from the X-Men comics? They were subway dwellers who at the very least would not have been embraced by society. 2Dans evolves the misfit mythos to create a thought-provoking look at how destructive society can be when they don’t pay attention to just how they’re being manipulated, while doing it with the very devices we take for granted. If nothing else, don’t you want to know what an atomic fart is?