Game Over by Elliot Torres

Hot Off the Presses scours the internet for newly published debut books from unknown authors, and saves everyone else the trouble of actually reading books to find out if they’re good or not. New posts every Tuesday and Thursday. This is meant for entertainment purposes only, not serious consumer advice. And there will be spoilers.

Sometimes you feel like reading about middle aged women bonding in a lake cabin over their mutual love of crochet. Sometimes you want dude-dick energy pulsing through the story so hard your Kindle feels sticky. This is one of those stories. Game Over by Elliot Torres is an Evil Boss novel about an aspiring Zoolander who works for the king of video games.

Joaquin Otero is working two jobs in Hollywood to try and make ends meet while he waits for his big break. We first learn what kind of person Joaquin is at his day job processing books at the public library. I don’t blame him for thinking that being a page is like having someone sous vide your brain. You’d never guess it from my expert social skills and not-at-all vitamin D deficient skin, but the proprietrix of this very blog was once a page, and it’s kind of like getting paid minimum wage to sing the alphabet song to yourself until you die or turn into a Batman villain. “Who reads anymore” soliloquizes our intrepid himbo. Who indeed. What’s less relatable is the way he describes his boss as a flamboyantly gay man who is “wearing stilettos in his mind,” and gets a “hard-on” for processing books. A recurring theme in Game Over is that characters will get bafflingly mean introductions or physical descriptions.

Joaquin’s night job is having sex with a bar owner named Will, who is closeted and married with kids. We get a very classy paragraph-long sex scene where Will treats Joaquin like a gym sock, before our boy returns home to his boyfriend Vaughn. Only Vaughn isn’t there. Instead, he left a breakup note, even though he was dating a philandering, misanthropic nobody. Way to shoot yourself in the foot, Vaughn! This blow sends Joaquin into a watching Dirty Dancing and throwing Kleenex boxes at the TV state of mind (I mean not literally, but you know what I mean). Luckily for our hero, the plot swoops in to save the day.

“The glass shattered just like my heart.”

After two years of getting respected and ripped in prison, enormous throbbing badass Mike Chambers is ready to return to his enormous throbbing media conglomerate. The king is royally back on his throne to rule the throne kingdom. His violent video games have made him infamous among angry parents and other squares, but made him a god among gamers. The only sleeves he knows are made of ink. Also, and I’m speculating a bit here, but I’m pretty sure he could arm wrestle a bear. Joaquin has sent out so many job applications that apparently he applied for a stock room job at Mike’s company Imperial, and just when he is at his lowest he gets a call from the big boss’s personal assistant Brenda, saying he needs to start immediately.

Like all fat people in this book, Brenda is always eating. But, and I know you were about to ask, her butt is as flat as an ironing board. Those Dunkaroos and Hot Pockets are going straight to her massive belly. We get an aside about her trainwreck of a life and booze-battered body (even though she is Latina, and so “should have aged well”). Is this a thing? Because this is the second book I’ve reviewed on this blog where a gay male narrator desperately needed to tell me how disgusted he was by a fat woman’s body. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Anyway, the office is full of nerds “hypnotized” by their computer screens, a black secretary with multiple “baby daddies,” and skinny girls who only work there because of the “lack of competition.” OK, yeah, it’s not just me. Joaquin doesn’t fit in with this crowd. He’s more gym and Botox, less vidya and love handles. He quickly finds out that the boss is a nightmare, but nobody seems very nice. There is a security guard (played in your mind by your choice of Kate McKinnon or Horatio Sans) who is comically hostile to Joaquin, taking time out of his day to taunt him through security intercoms.

“I quickly noticed, in the video game industry, the larger your waistline, hair loss, premature wrinkles, dark circles under your eyes and double chins, the more you were a team player and were rewarded immensely. I, however, was not going to fall victim to that epidemic.”

OK, enough foreplay; we all know where this is going. Joaquin somehow catches the eye and approval of Mike-randa Priestly, and to the envy of everyone else, gets to fill in as Mike’s personal assistant while Brenda is on maternity leave. Oh, did I not mention she is making a whole human with her body when I told you how disgustingly fat she is? Must have slipped my mind. I’ve skipped over some of the subtle clues about just how bad Mike is as a boss, like the fact that employees can’t use the gym at the same time as him, or the grueling procedures his cleaning lady has to follow. But there is one detail that made me laugh every time, and that is the glass breaking. This guy, Mike Chambers, cannot be around glass. Almost every scene he’s in, he breaks something. He probably karate chops his tumbler after a stiff whiskey. And half the time the thing he’s breaking is the glass walls and doors of his own office. He keeps breaking glass and then someone keeps replacing the glass. Why? Take this man’s glass away from him. He can’t have glass anymore. Not stained, not tempered, not even Ira. He’s cut off. After working his glass-replacing temp job for a few months Joaquin discovers that Brenda is not coming back, and he will have to become Mike’s permanent baby sitter. Mike calls her a bitch and breaks the phone, which I assume is his normal way of ending a conversation. Will Man Hathaway survive the boss from hell? Will he give up his dreams of becoming an actor for a six figure income? How fat are women? You’ll have to read the rest of the book to find out!

“It had been two years since Mike Chapman was arrested after a large amount of Cocaine and an unregistered gun was found in his Porsche when he was caught speeding on his way to Las Vegas. He could have gotten five years, but due to his connections and white privilege, he was able to get the sentencing down to two.”

While I didn’t always find Joaquin relatable or likable, this book wasn’t written for me. The story follows the beats of an Evil Boss contemporary perfectly, so if that’s your cup of tea, Game Over could be your next favorite guilty pleasure. The only caveat is, it’s currently ten dollars on Kindle. I would wait for that price to come down, but if you find it during a promotion, it’s worth a look. Especially if you think video games are for nerds.

I sat through another one of Madeline’s dumb reviews, and now you do too.

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