"Throttle" is an homage-fest. First and foremost, it's an homage to Richard Matheson and his story "Duel". I was not surprised to read that "Throttle" first appeared in He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson
. The story's also an homage to B movie legends like Roger Corman, with a character wearing a Corman High Varsity sweatshirt that receives multiple mentions. And finally, "Throttle" is an homage to the often complicated relationships between fathers and their children. I love that Stephen King and his son Joe Hill teamed up to tell a story about a father and son struggling to connect. Ultimately, that's what "Throttle" is all about - family.
"Throttle" explores family bonds formed (and strained) through various means: birth, parenting, serving in the Marines, going to war, living as veterans of an unpopular war, and so on. The relationship between Vince and his son Race stands at the center of the story, as does the gradually revealed relationship between the homicidal truck driver and his drug addled daughter who dies by machete before the story even begins. Interestingly, the truck driver remains faceless through the majority of the story. His "face" and story only become known through his links to two families - the Marines (deduced from his tattoo "Death before Dishonor") and his now-slaughtered daughter smiling from a photo found in the cab of the truck.
Fathers sometimes do crazy things for their children, don't they? Granted, I wouldn't go so far as to help launch my son's meth processing and distribution business, but I do understand the desire to be supportive. And really, how crazy is wanting to avenge the horrific murder of a beloved child? Would I track the killers down and turn them into grill candy and road pizza? Hopefully not, but I'd want justice to be served through the courts at least. "Throttle" may take the reactions to extremes, but the emotions are both real and familiar.
"Throttle" gives us no comfort, no winners. The story serves up a collection of flawed angry characters behaving insanely. It's hard to like anyone too much. But liking someone is not a prerequisite for showing empathy. I empathized with a number of the characters, and wish them better things for the future. The past and present have been hard enough. Race's parting from his father Vince saddened the hell out of me. Will the future be better for the survivors? Do they even deserve happiness? Who knows.
If you like well-written, error free, disturbing stories about road rage and broken relationships, "Throttle" is for you. It's a quick read jammed with action and emotion, and well worth the 99 cents.