The Gone-Away World-Nick Harkaway

Opening: “Chapter One. Where it all began; pigs and crisis; close encounters with management. The lights went out in the Nameless Bar just after nine.”

This is a book which is extremely hard to describe. It is a comedy, except when it’s not. It’s a treatise on the foolishness of war, except when it’s not. It’s a serious book, with ninjas and mimes.

It’s also extremely hard to put down, as my finishing it at 2 am will attest.

While it has the humor of a satire or a mad comedy (and sometimes both at the same time), it also has a kind of funny seriousness that keeps the whole thing from becoming slapstick. One of my problems with satire in general is that it lacks heart. This book doesn’t.

There’s a big plot twist. I had trouble with this plot twist, in that I wasn’t sure it had actually happened. I had to go back and check and then check online because I still wasn’t sure. This may have been due to the fact that I was reading at 2 am. I think I would have to re-read the whole book to really get it. And since this is a hefty book, with bits that appear to be sidelines but aren’t, I’m not really sure when that will happen.

All the same, I really enjoyed it. I don’t think it would be for everyone; there’s a fair amount of violence and sex, though not terribly graphic for either. For me, it hit all the right notes–hilarious and sad and surprising.

Book source public library
Book information: Alfred Knopf, 2008; sf, adult
Recommended by: Jess

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Filed under bookish posts, reviews

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