Sean Penn might be an Academy Award-winning actor, but a Pulitzer for writing may not be in his future.
To say that Penn's novel 'Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff' is unusual is an understatement. It was first released as an audiobook in 2016 and follows the adventures of Bob Honey, a men described on the book's Amazon page as "a modern American man, an entrepreneur, and a part-time assassin."
The dystopian tale was released just as Penn announced he was stepping away from acting, something he may want to reconsider after looking at a sampling of the book's reviews.
Critics have been ripping the novel to shreds, with some of the harshest reviews collected for your enjoyment below.
The Huffington Post
Claire Fallon of the The Huffington Post wrote, "It's physically impossible to dunk on a novel that is already dunking on itself so hard."
"When I say that Bob Honey is reminiscent of a fever dream, I mean that it's nonsensical, unpleasant and left me sweaty with mingled horror and confusion."
The New York Times
The New York Times described Penn's book as "a riddle wrapped in an enigma and cloaked in crazy".
"Still, for a wild ride, 'Bob Honey' is conspicuously un-fun. For every perfect, plain-spoken sentence ('It is on that couch where Bob feels safest, almost embraced') there are dozens of linguistic traffic jams where you can almost hear the words honking at each other to get out of the way."
Entertainment Weekly definitely didn't hold anything back, either. The title of their write-up: "What in the world is going on in Sean Penn's new novel?"
"Penn, like Bob, is a Baby Boomer, and it's hard not to read the book as his loud, angry, absurdist response to the state of the world," critic David Canfield expressed. "Indeed, it's this strange, flawed world which so grates on Penn that has ushered his strange, flawed book into existence."
"May he never quit his day job; Penn delivers prose as if he were gunning for a prize from the American Alliteration Association. 'Dreams died like destiny's deadwood,' he writes,'" critiqued Mark Athitakis, who also called the book "all over the place in any format, slapdash in style and structure."
"If only the satire were funnier, though. If only the writing were more coherent," he added. "And if only the timing were better. In the weeks before the last presidential election, 'Bob Honey' reflected the goofiness of the moment's political theater. Now that we are living with its consequences, the story feels off point and toothless."
The National Review took brutal honesty to the next level when they made their headline "Sean Penn Tries Writing."
Critic Jonah Goldberg described Penn's book as being, "the kind of thing you write when you don't have the confidence to say what you want to say the way you want to say it, so you follow a formula ("4 parts alliteration, 1 part wry masturbation references . . .")."
Fans at Home
The book hasn't been winning people over at home either, as many seemed to agree with the critics on Twitter. Below are just a few of the most savage tweets.
Read a few excerpts from Sean Penn's book. I appreciate alliteration most of the time, but this... "There is pride to be had where the prejudicial is practiced with precision in the trenchant triage of tactile terminations.” ...makes me want to punch someone in the throat.