cover image Reboot


Justin Taylor. Pantheon, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-553-38762-9

Celebrity culture, climate collapse, and pandemic-era conspiracy theories provide fodder for this entertaining if overstuffed satire from Taylor (Riding with the Ghost, a memoir). Narrator David Crader, a former child actor and recovering alcoholic nearing 40, is slumming it as the voice of a popular video game character. While in Los Angeles for a fan convention, he meets up with his ex-wife and former co-star, Grace Travis, who proposes a reboot of their early-2000s “beach-town soap,” an East Coast OC mixed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer except with ghosts instead of vampires. Keen to the idea, David sets off to convince their former costars, including heartthrob Shayne Glade, now a star of the New York City theater world; and Corey Burch, dubbed by culture writer Molly Webster as “TheDesignatedFatKid™,” who’s pivoted to anti-vax politics and is running for mayor in the South Florida town where the show was set. Along the way, David faces wildfires in California and flooding rains in New York as he attempts to claw his way back into the limelight. Some sections, like one long tangent chronicling the backstory of David’s second ex-wife, seem superfluous, but Taylor makes up for it with Webster’s caffeinated pop-culture patter and David’s indomitable determination. Readers will find plenty to applaud. Agent: Noah Ballard, Verve Talent & Literary. (Apr.)