I've read a few of Nic's in-progress novels on his blog, and was excited to see Whores presented in an easier-to-follow format than reading blog entries.
This is an odd novel. It's fairly short, probably more of a novella than a full novel, and I finished it in a single night. While a lot of the characterizations and dialogue handles tough issues like sexual abuse, torture, and poverty deftly, there's still a gritty pulp feel to it,and many bits of dialogue that could have been written by a pop-culture obsessed 14 year old boy, albeit one who was born in the 80's.
I was surprised how much I was affected by Whores. I am fairly politically aware, and once I started researching some of the elements that shape the political climate in Whores, I was disgusted by how many of them are rooted in the political culture of the past few years. While Whores definitely takes the current gender conflicts to a level that is pretty unthinkable with the mechanics of our government, the misogyny and sexual conflict is rooted deeply enough in reality to resonate.
I am a survivor of abuse, and sexual assault, and normally I hate seeing it in books. Authors don't seem to treat it as anything more than a plot device, gimmick("As if it wasn't enough that he is politically at odds with our character... He's a CHILD MOLESTER!!!" Dun dun duuuuuuuuun),or a barely concealed rape-fantasy. That's the thing that made Whores shine to me. Even though the violence and abuse described is graphic, gratuitous, and hard to fathom, Nic writes about it with humanity, focusing on the victims, how they respond, the choices they have to make to recover, and the ways it affects the community around them, as well as the societal causes that have made that kind of violence, if not acceptable, tolerable.
Even though the sensitivity to his "victims" was the element that stuck out the most to me, because of my own experiences, it's a comparatively small part of the overall novella. Nic usually writes very terse, graphically violent stories, and Whores is no exception. Most of the lead characters are at best, criminals, at worst, terrorists, and the plot follows their fight very closely. It's certainly not for the faint of heart. Nic seems to take a perverse pleasure in incorporating acts of sadism and violence to even the good-guys actions that is unsettling. As you read it, you KNOW you should be thinking "God. They're as bad as what they're fighting". But in context, it feels like karma.
Certainly Whores is not for the faint of heart. But it's well written, and relevant for anyone currently living in the USA, of breeding age.
(reviewed the day of purchase)