Author: Owen King
Publisher: Scribner
Buy it here

Since Owen King is the son of Stephen King and brother of Joe Hill, it's worth noting, right off the bat, that his debut novel, Double Feature, has nothing to do with horror. For that, it's an admirable and, frankly, ballsy move, one that has undoubtedly pissed a few Stephen King loyalists off, expecting something like Joe Hill's Horns and getting a literary dramedy.

Abandon those genre preconceptions, though, and you'll discover one of the year's best debuts. Double Feature follows young Sam Dolan, an aspiring movie director whose first film gets disastrously reshaped into an X-rated romp about a well-endowed janitor who has sex with trees by its producers and gives his father, a B-movie star, more ammo to use against his son, with whom he doesn't exactly have a cuddly rapport. Sam's path to redemption features run-ins and relationships with a large ensemble of colorful characters, the most interesting of whom work in the independent film community.

Owen King's novel may not be frightening like his father's best works, but there is one parallel to be made: Whereas Stephen King is great at scaring his readers, Owen's a pro at making them laugh. Seriously, Double Feature is funnier than any movie to come out this year not titled This Is the End. —Matt Barone