01/12/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books. 579 page enlarged paperback. Price: $18.00 (US), $22.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-49994-3.
check out website: www.delreybooks.com
I've reviewed three books by Maurice Dantec this year. Each one has a different style to the other. Nothing wrong with that. Adapting style to idea is something I do myself although there are always some things that are always identifiable. With Dantec, its references to his interest and taste in Science Fiction and music and this one is loaded with them, right down to the chapter headings. If you want a book for product placement, this is the one to read. It's understandable that Dantec would hit on references to his favourite reading interests, as he did in his earlier books, but this one uses modern products and companies, too, even though its set in the future. Whether any of them would be more than passing memories in his future will remain to be seen.
I'm still not quite sure what Dantec was supposed to be achieving here. I learnt more about the plot from the back cover than the content. If you love a use of colourful words, you'd probably be happy but getting to the end of this book left me with a feeling of over-indulgence with word count when more attention should be applied to the plot and getting the characters to achieve their aim as if it was to cover up a very shallow plot. There are so many characters in this story that it becomes very difficult to wade through the various scenes to know what they have to do with the story. The process also destroys emotional content so you don't really care what happens to the characters. Dantec might want to have his scenario look similar to real-life but the art of storytelling is to prune out the incidental to enable a sharper focus on what is supposed to be going on.
Here, we are in 2057 and most electronic devices are no longer working due to computer viruses. A dozen years later and people are struggling to survive. The story focuses on Grande Junction, a former spaceport and somewhere in the multitude of characters, a teen-age prodigy called Link de Nova who is supposed to be capable of defeating the virus. With nothing much working, it doesn't really make that much difference what time period they're in.
A very basic plot that gets sunk with the various discussions by various characters that creep out of the woodwork that the story loses direction. As a reviewer, I keep going to the end but I was struggling to work out what was going on and still no wiser at the end.
Although I can applaud trying something different it shouldn't be done at the expense of telling a story well and avoid over-indulgence. After all, a book without readers will stay on the shelf. Dantec is capable of writing a decent story so I hope this book gets this out of his system and focuses on what works.
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