Explosive Review: Head Grenade

Explosive Review: Head Grenade

With one of the best book titles I’ve ever beheld, Troy Henderson’s Head Grenade is the type of novel that knows exactly who it’s writing for.

A deep delve that intertwines thriller, mystery, speculative fiction, dark comedy, slice of life, and a touch of science fiction, Head Grenade has plenty to enjoy.

It’s a novel which perfectly captures that liminal space between young adult and adult, and for those who live in Brisbane it’s a snapshot of the lovely river city as well.

Using wit to ask the big questions

Manny is our protagonist, caught in a cycle of going out partying at the local clubbing strip, recovering with bizarre breakfasts at obscure restaurants, working long shifts as a nurse, and managing his friendly-yet-sobriety-challenged roommate.

His distinctive wit permeates the narration as he questions his life and circumstances, or the increasingly niche fusion cuisine he finds himself eating.

When he meets a girl who can’t feel pain and begins to fall in love with her oddball nature and passionate drive, the lonely nature of his grief-filled beginnings are thrown into sharp relief with a vivid and vibrant present.

Manny’s past and lost ability to heal weaves neatly through the novel in the form of flashbacks and the growing paranoia that someone is watching him.

Doomsday-prepper aunt to the rescue

His doomsday-prepper aunt doesn’t help ease this, with her tinfoil hat theories and reliance on Manny to be her bastion of support in the rest of the world.

Manny’s life begins to unravel even as the connections he builds in it strengthen, leading to a thrilling climax that puts all the puzzle pieces in place.

Reading Head Grenade was a delight for me, I’d never read anything quite like it before.

It was relatable in a way many novels weren’t, whether it was because I was just in the target audience or because I understood too much how Manny felt about the lost potential of his healing powers, an experience that can be allegorical to many people who feel that they have in some way missed out on something that they had when they were younger.

The humour had me laughing, the prose was inventive and fresh, and the characters all felt like people I could meet on any street in Brisbane.

Lost talents and a dash of necromancy

There’s a very raw reality behind all the speculative science fiction, Manny’s lost healing talents with a dash of minor necromancy aside.

It’s a novel about finding out you’ve grown up enough to know there’s a long way to go.

There’s a familiar introspection to anyone who’s reached the point of being too old to die young and realising that life goes on in strange and quirky ways.

For anyone who’s lived in Brisbane it’s an exploration of the city, for anyone who hasn’t, it’s an exploration of the self.

Head Grenade was without a doubt one of the books that’s resonated the most with me this year, and if there’s a possibility of more to come in this world, I’d love to read that too.

Buy Head Grenade via the Hawkeye book store here.


Back to top