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A nearly stream-of-consciousness novel of life in what supposes itself to be a utopian society where the young are privileged. The horror is that everyone must conform to rules and all share eachothers' thoughts. One girl tries, unsuccessfully not to rebel. Brilliantly written with implications behind every sentence. Rear it; think about it; discuss it and read it again. It's a new approach to the novel. Wonderful!
If you like your narrative to be linear and sensical then don't look here. If you like to read a work that is more of art than it is of story, then you might find some enjoyment. Sadly, I'm a guy who walks past 20 paintings in a gallery until I find one I like. I wish I'd walked past this one.
I haven't read anything quite as mind-bending for a long time, nor have I sped so enthusiastically through a book.Imagine something of Forster's The Machine Stops being yoked to Paraguayan guitar music to tell a story about language and narrative and the fallibility of systems and the clash between spirituality and dogma (something of a Nicola Barker theme, that). It all culminates in a huge dreamscape presided over by Lacanian algebra and the Fibonacci series. Pretentious, no?
Absolutely no. A theme here is how systems try to limit you bringing disparate information together, and how narrative ingenuity is what allows the coherence of unrelated material. This uses symbols and music and pictures at various times rather than just text. Barker triumphs at bringing it all together. However if you dislike typographical experimentation (you have to read this in colour, for instance) you probably won't get very far into the book.
Is there a more hackneyed literary sub-genre than the dystopian future techno society out of control? This trope hasn't seen a breath of originality since Phillip K. Dick. The pedantic use of obscure guitar music (only $130 a copy) and unintelligible Lacanian "algebra" doesn't cut it in this thematic re-tread.
Question: What's the difference between the works of Shakespeare and this novel by Nicol[a] B[a]rker? Answer: If you had enough time, enough typrewriters and enough untrained monkeys, they would eventually re-create the entire works of Shakespeare. Whereas a smaller number of monkeys on a single typewriter would bash out this novel on the first attempt. I'd like to say I hated it. I'd like to provide a critique and pull it apart. But instead, I threw it in the bin after the first six pages. Seriously, don't waste your time. Don't be fooled by the gushing praise from the elite of the literary critics. They are all in the same boat. Afraid to call this book what it is. Which is the lierary equivalent of the Emperor in the New Suit of Clothes. None of them had the guts to call out that he was naked. And none of them have the guts to call out the fact that this book is the biggest load of pretentious twaddle every to venture out from the confines of a publishing house that should have taken more pity on an unsuspecting readership. Yes I get the fact that it was science fiction. Yes I get that it's trying to make a point about the impending implosion of language in a world currently limited to 140-character tweets. But Woody Allen and Michael Anderson made the same point 30 years ago. With more warmth. More humour. More self-deprecation. More wit. More ability. More of everything you'd ever want from a work of fiction. Please. I understand you might be wanting something a bit more meaningful if you've read everything that Dan Brown, Lee Child, John Grisham and everyone else on Richard and Judy's book list has to offer. But do yourself a favour and don't waste £15 of your hard-earned cash on something that is likely to end up as the most expensive toilet paper you've ever bought. Oh. And by the way. Apart from that, it was a right rivetin' read :-)