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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Just a Typo: The Cancellation of Celebrity Mo Riverlake by John Bennardo is a satirical novel that homes in on the effects of cancel culture in real life. The book begins with Mo Riverlake bunkered in his home from the mob that has protested outside his gates since he wrote a thoughtfully formulated but hastily posted tweet about an LGBTQ court loss. Within minutes his world collapsed around him and we meet him right as he's being arrested. During conversations with his attorneys, we are given Riverlake's backstory from the cradle to the clink, with his rise as a game show host coming to an abrupt end as a snowball effect ensues and everything he has ever said or done is spun into a context that further paints him as a racist homophobe. He's reviled by all who loved him before.
John Bennardo does an amazing job in crafting Mo Riverlake as the unassuming victim of cancel culture in Just a Typo. The book is entirely in the first person and offers hilarious oversight from the perspective of a fictional celebrity who was trying to do something good but failed miserably. The prose drips with sarcasm and in my head, I read the entire book in an Aziz Ansari voice—someone nobody remembers anymore either. Satire is a tough nut to crack because the balance between being funny and being obnoxious is very, very hard to maintain throughout a full-length novel. Bennardo masters this beautifully with intelligence and hearty character development that begins from page one. It's hard not to feel bad for Mo Riverlake. Nothing is sacred in Riverlake's world anymore and it's funny but also, it's a little sad. At the heart of this story is a message that the trigger reflex we have now may need to be toned down a bit. Real lives are being destroyed. Free Mo Riverlake.