Settle in my reading friends and let me tell you the story of the “Pink Slime”. Once upon a time, fast food restaurants were immune to criticism. Then one day, sometime in 2012, all that changed when ABC News ran an 11 part segment on what fast food meat looks like in its raw form. The most charitable description? “Pink Slime.” “Pink Slime” was defended as being a harmless additive to make ground beef go further, nothing more, but the controversy put all fast food restaurants under careful consumer scrutiny. In 2014, horror writer H.E. Goodhue proposed that “Pink Slime” comes from space and is anything but harmless.
The novel Pink Slime is hard to describe. It’s most like a bizarro novel but less explicit (no anthromorphized/sentient reproductive organs running around) and with a stronger, more real world-ish plot. If you removed the aliens and the Pink Slime, this is the story of a formerly bullied young adult who has the oppportunity to get revenge on everyone who hurt him and in the process becomes corrupt from the power. The thing is, Andy Holstein would not be able to get revenge without the Pink Slime. Immediately after reading it I described this book as being an easy read, which it is, but it’s not necessarily a “beach read”. Underneath the body horror and the Pink Slime, there’s a message about appropriate revenge versus becoming worse than the bullies. Also, “beach reads” aren’t usually this dark.
I don’t want to spoil everything about Pink Slime
but let me give you a little taste (pun intended). Andy Holstein is an overweight athletic store employee whose only genuine friend is a spacy, hyperactive character known as Squirrel. Andy is in love with Cece, a frequent customer who he thinks is out of his league but is also nice to him. Other than Squirrel and Cece, everyone who meets Andy bullies him for his weight and awkwardness. The only place he feels welcome is the local fast food restaurant. Through a convoluted series of events, Andy eats the Pink Slime and gains the ability to turn people into Pink Slime monsters. This is all explained better in the novel, I promise. With his new power Andy goes on a killing spree and…Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out how it ends.
While I enjoyed Pink Slime there were parts and characters that seemed unnecessary. The one that stood out to me was any scene involving the alien nicknamed Guy. The alien nicknamed Guy was there for exposition purposes but in the end felt like he didn’t have to be there after all. He even said himself that there were aspects of the Pink Slime that he wasn’t familiar with. For a character that explains complicated events, you would think they’d have a good grasp on said events. Unfortunately when you read the book, you can’t ignore Guy.
In spite of some…moments, I do recommend Pink Slime. The book, not the gunk at fast food restaurants.