Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy is about a mostly-indestructible mutant thug named Hank who works as a leg-breaker on the worst space station in the galaxy. Hank is a man of simple tastes. All he wants to do is eat as much junk food as he want, scare people into paying his bosses money, and stay out of events which are really dangerous. As you can imagine, his desire to do the latter is completely blown away by the events of the book.
The book doesn't really have a plot, per se, as Hank does his absolute best to avoid taking responsibility for anything going on around him. When two indestructible super-robots come to the station searching for a Level 10 Mutant (which Hank has been misidentified as), it requires the local police to drag him kicking and screaming into the fight. When a mysterious beautiful purple-skinned woman involves him in a quest to get drugs for her insane omnipotent brother, Hank does his best to do the job without asking questions. When the military threatens a takeover of the station, Hank dodges getting involved as best he can.
Hank is a great character because Steven Campbell has managed to create an antihero with a really unique and believable voice. I was often reminded of Patrick Warburton and the kind of characters he plays when thinking of Hank and his antics. I've since listened to the audiobook and this turns out to have been deliberate as narrator Liam Owen does a dead-on impression of Patrick when voicing Hank.
Belvaille Station is a great location to set a series of books because it manages to be (mostly) believable while also being heavily stylized. Like Frank Miller's Sin City, it's a city of criminals and everyone is untrustworthy but it operates to a peculiar but consistent set of rules. Hank is an enforcer who believes in Belaville's code, at least to the context of never busting a deal even when it's to his own deterrent. Getting to know the station and its collection of lowlifes is one of the best parts of the setting.
Much of the book is action and that normally would make it less entertaining but it's comedic action along the lines of Rush Hour. Hank is almost indestructible so whenever he tries to punch something outside of his weight class, it's usually hilarious to see him bounced around like a Looney Toons character. Hank also has to come up with bizarre and inventive ways of dealing with opponents tougher than him, which is doubly hard because he's kind of an idiot. I also love his catchphrase for murdering people: "Eat Suck, Suckface!"
Hank's supporting cast is delightful as they range from the corrupt station manager, Garm, to the innocent and sweet Jyen. By the end of the book, I wanted to see many more installments with them and immediately bought the sequel. The sense of humor throughout the book and hilarious action were exactly my sort of storytelling.
So, why didn't I give it a five out of five? Well, one has to grade these things on the curve. This book doesn't aspire to be the next Game of Thrones, it just wants to tell a funny story. The ending also swerves a bit too much from Hank the lowlife to Hank the galaxy savior and I find that infinitely less interesting. Despite this, I would definitely recommend this book to someone looking for a light and sweet read even if Hank the protagonist is anything but. I also recommend checking out the audiobook over the physical as the narration is perfect.