Surf Ninjas – A. L. Singer

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The text of Surf Ninjas is copyrighted to New Line Cinema Corp, but I like to think that the author credited with writing it, A. L. Singer, is less a pseudonym and more a relative of Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Surf Ninjas is one of those great titles that doubles as a blurb. This is a story about ninjas, who surf. This is a story about Adam and Johnny McQuinn, two Californian kids who are obsessed with surfing. Who later turn out to be the sole survivors of the royal family of a small island nation in the Pacific, prophesied to overthrow the local dictator General Chi. Chi conducts a belated King Herod scheme and sends his ninjas to kill the boys, precipitating a saga woven out of a fantasy counterpart culture and pop culture references that recalls a Rincewind adventure from early in the Discworld series.

This is a novelization of a screenplay, so naturally the dialogue is the real star. Most of it resembled humour without actually making me laugh, but sadly that’s always been normal for me. The greatest joke involves knives. I’d write a lovingly detailed description of it, but I just remembered that this story was originally was a film so I’ll embed a Youtube video instead.

Really, this is the same sort of incredulous sarcasm I’d expect from Lee Mack in Would I Lie To You? I’m not saying that rest of the book was bad, but this exchange stands head and shoulders above everything else in it.

Surf Ninjas includes one of the worst pick-up lines I’ve read in a very long time.

“You know, Betty,” Adam said, “If I were going to build a condo, I’d put it here because the view is so sweet.”

I physically recoiled after reading this, like I’d stumbled onto the romance advice section of the Necromnicon. The word condo is what seals it, I think. I’m not entirely sure what a condo is. Probably a particularly tasteless variety of apartment buildings built by Americans in the nineties. And for his fanciful scenario to work, either Betty would need to stay still or Adam’s condo would have to follow her around. Maybe I’m reading too much into this.

Surf Ninjas was slightly more enjoyable than I expected, but I have no idea who to recommend this book to. Either Rob Schneider fans or anyone doing academic work on the depictions of Asian-Americans in nineties pop-culture. I can tell you this, though, after reading this book I am intrigued about the movie.

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