Monday, July 15, 2019

Review -The Wall - John Lanchester

The WallThe Wall by John Lanchester
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Wall is about Kavanagh, filling his national service on the coastal wall that girdles the UK to keep out the Others after the world has gone to pot from the Change, which saw sea levels rise around the world and, we guess, massive environmental damage and human displacement. I say 'we guess' because the world building is short on detail. So short I thought The Wall was going into allegorical territory but if it was it didn't have a lot to say other than 'it's complicated'. And if it wasn't an allegory, the world building was unconvincing. For example it's set a little in the future and they still have TV and mobile phones but the Wall is super low-tech and the guards don't even have night vision goggles or automated defences.

It's also been compared (incorrectly by some) to 1984. Kavanagh is no Winston Smith. He doesn't question or resist. He drifts. Maybe this is Lanchester's comment on late 20th/ early 21st Century humanity. Whatever, it doesn't make for an engaging character or prosecution - through their eyes - of a particular stance.

The events that happen, while believable, alternate between being quite boringly quotidian and described in mind-numbing detail. There's also a LOT of foreshadowing in the 'little did I know I'd never see her again' vein and even though things pick up a bit in the final sequence there's zero resolution and I actually swore out loud when I read the last sentence because it was the opposite of thought-provoking, fulfilling or anything else you could hope for from the end of a really good book.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review - Tiamat's Wrath - James SA Corey

Tiamat's Wrath (The Expanse, #8)Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

James SA Corey postponed the release of Tiamat's Wrath so they could concentrate on getting it right. It was worth the wait. Persepolis Rising (book 7) was a difficult book, bringing in a significant time jump for the lead characters and ending on a huge downer with the crew of the Rocinante fragmented: some captured, some on the run. One of the strengths of Tiamat's Wrath is how these characters - isolated and in difficult circumstances - pull themselves up to a position where they can strike back. This is one of the strongest books in the series with brilliant plot and character reveals throughout.

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