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How I Saved a Planet!


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A privileged, woke-boy, bootlegged version of The Phantom Tollbooth w/ misogyny, juvenile humor, 1960s Star Trek, and Shakespeare + Thoreau.

I was scrolling through Reedsy hoping for a fun satire to read and lo and behold I came across How to Save a Planet by Stephen Quatro which was classified by genre as a comedy. Based on the visual and written context clues on the front cover and the very opening of the book, that’s what I was expecting; unfortunately, what I got was something that quickly devolved into poorly executed juvenile humor, and, at the end as it all turns out, the whole point to the book that our Main Character (MC) points out is that we’re supposed to have gone on a giant philosophical journey - which SPOILER ALERT (but not really because I’ll warn you when there are actual plot spoilers ahead) just doesn’t happen.

By the end of the book we’re told that the overarching theme of the book should be to discuss the “key to life”; I say “should be” here because it is not successfully done. I’m all for showcasing the chaos that is life. I’m all for having chaos featured in a book, and I understand that life is inherently chaotic. I’m currently playing a chaotic neutral wild magic sorcerer in Dungeons and Dragons and am thoroughly enjoying it. But to do something chaotic in a book and do it well, there needs to be some method to the madness to make it make some sense - otherwise I’m just sitting over here questioning, “Why am I continuing to read this confusing book? To which the answer is, “I don’t know, third base!” (Insert Abbot and Costello Who’s on First clip)

If I had to sum this book up in a few words, I would say that we’re following the story told in first person by the MC. Because of the way the “social commentary” (and I’m using quotes here to show that I’m using the term rather loosely) starts to cover nuanced topics and misses the mark EVERY. SINGLE. TIME, the MC comes off as a guy suffering from self-proclaimed-nice-guy-syndrome with repressed misogyny (particularly through objectification of women, slut shaming, and bullying) who has a temper and physically takes it out on people. Imagine a bootlegged version of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster mixed with repressed misogyny, juvenile humor, 1960s Star Trek (specifically episode 66 Wink of an Eye), a poor rehashing of Shakespeare and Henry David Thoreau, and a privileged cis white man who is trying to be woke. That’s what my experience of this book is. That’s my synopsis.

This book has been through a copy and a line editor. I have no copy edit notes and very few line editing notes. What this book didn’t have was a content editor AND IT SHOWS. Before finishing the book and attempting to organize my notes, I reached out to the author directly on Instagram to try to give him my notes before this book was released since, according to Reedsy, the book wouldn’t be released until August 30th, 2020. As it turns out, the book has already been published, and the author did not make any confirmable commitments to at least provide the trigger warnings that this book desperately needs. On one hand I’m glad the author didn’t immediately become defensive to my criticism, but I would still like to see a commitment to either 1) pull the book from shelves and implement some content edits (which based on our brief conversation isn’t going to happen) or 2) provide trigger warnings to new potential buyers before the point of sale. I’ll insert screenshots of the conversation in my blog post and also provide a transcription of those screenshots here for you to interpret here:

For a little more context, I have NEVER experienced being triggered by a book before, and I’m a fan of Brent Weeks and have read some Mark Lawrence (though I will never return to Lawrence’s books or buy them unless he decides to make a public apology and show that he’s made some changes on how he treats people). I don’t have a problem with watching or reading Game of Thrones (GRRM). I love hard topics being covered with dark humor like in Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. What I have discovered is that I DO have a problem with domestic abuse, non-consensual drugging, and gaslighting tactics being joked about nonchalantly without there being social commentary to go with it. 

Going back to how this book is chaotic in all the wrong ways, the plot and content of the book is at best maybe an outline that still needs organized. Don’t worry, I’ll provide ample examples in a chapter by chapter breakdown. The thoughts/journal entries that are provided by MC are raw (insert Gordon Ramsey voice) - maybe half-baked if I’m being generous. There are instances where the MC tries to employ wit and humor, but because it’s half-baked these instances usually come across as bullying. I LOVE satire, dark humor, and even self deprecating humor - I use it as a coping mechanism in my own life constantly, but this book just isn’t good enough (inserts another Gordon Ramsey meme). If you’d like a fantastic combination of these for an example check out Jim Gaffigan’s “Cinnabon” routine.

The rest of this review on my blog will provide a chapter by chapter breakdown which contains spoilers.

Reviewed by

I don’t think of my life as that exciting, so I fill it with books and comfy things. Follow my goodreads to stay up to date with what I’m reading, but I’m much more likely to post a book review on BookTube (for some reason talking about books on camera is slightly easier than typing about it).

Chapter A

About the author

A bit about me: I live in New Jersey, where I enjoy creating stories and composing music. Singing and baking are also hobbies of mine. How I Saved a Planet! is my debut novel, and I am working on more adventures! view profile

Published on February 29, 2020

60000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Humor & Comedy

Reviewed by