Emperor Mollusk is a squishy super-intelligent cephalopod. He spends most of his time inside robotic bodies he built for himself, and he does not handle boredom well. He took over the planet Earth just because he could, but then found himself at a loss. His mind control turned all human beings into peaceful Emperor Mollusk fans, leaving the planet defenseless against outside attacks. Or Emperor Mollusk's inventions run amok. When you're constantly busy creating new things, it's easy to lose track of the occasional enraged genetically modified creature.
Mollusk is now a retired supervillain. He's not looking for forgiveness and doesn't particularly feel bad about what he did (except for maybe Saturn, that went badly). He just wants to continue inventing things and keep Earth as safe as possible until the humans have completely gotten over his mind control and are ready to take care of themselves again. Unfortunately, someone seems to be trying to kill him. Zala, a Venusian warrior who looks like a feathered reptile, becomes his reluctant bodyguard.
I don't even remember half of what happened in this book. I mean, there was a nearly indestructible pet ultrapede, pterodactyls that could shoot laser beams out of their eyes, an enormous rampaging Marie Curie robot, giant insects attacking Topeka, space battles, and more. It was confusing. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
On the one hand, I might have been better off reading this rather than listening to it. Any time my attention wandered even a little, something fantastical and confusing happened. It took me ages to realize that some scenes were actually flashbacks, and not Emperor Mollusk very quickly and briefly ditching Zala to go save some random Earth location from being destroyed (or at least from being destroyed even more). Scenes with Zala and Emperor Mollusk investigating and/or fleeing for their lives were interspersed with scenes of past Emperor Mollusk gradually realizing that being a supervillain wasn't quite so much fun anymore.
On the other hand, if I had read this rather than listened to it, I would have missed out on Scott Aiello's fabulous narration. His Emperor Mollusk was deliciously fun to listen to, and I laughed when he attempted to read the lipless aliens' dialogue without using his lips. He even did a great job with Zala – he used a softer voice for her, to indicate that she was female, but the result thankfully didn't sound breathy and weak, like some male narrators' voices for women do.
I was a little bummed when this book was put on sale shortly after I bought it at the full Audible membership price. However, it was worth it, and I definitely plan on listening to it again. The ending was a mess and incredibly confusing (perhaps purposely so), and some of the action scenes were oddly lacking in tension and emotion, but I didn't mind because the overall journey was so much fun.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)