I had mixed feelings about this exciting near-future
sci-fi, my biggest of which is the plot itself.
Whilst a somewhat interesting premise for a book, I have to say that much
of it either wasn’t clear or didn’t necessarily gel into place – at least for
me. As always with this genre, the
threat is an existential one for humankind, but perhaps in a conscious move,
Tsui has mixed the fantasy tropes up a little, by putting a dragon in the
middle of a Bladerunner-esque noir thriller.
In true Black Mirror style, though, he has made that dragon a mechanical,
program-generated A.I. version. At least,
I think that’s the gist of it, for the biggest flaw for me in this otherwise
pretty entertaining actioner is that some of the very premise itself became a little
lost on me. The general plot is that the
dragon was created in a parallel dimension of sorts, and returns daily through
a portal to kill a pre-selected individual, the direct consequence of this
being a number of apparently random deaths which grows exponentially with each
kill until it is enormous. To be honest,
most of the questions which you might be asking now I felt weren’t really answered,
even after the book reached its end. I
did consider there to be a lot of loose ends, particularly in terms of plot answers,
which was a touch disappointing considering that the book started off genuinely
quite gripping and intriguing. Don’t get
me wrong, I liked the idea a lot, particularly of the judgmental apocalyptic
mechanical dragon, but beyond this I couldn’t really tell you much more.
It is a nicely written book, with some great action and set-pieces,
though in the second half – and more specifically the story’s last day – it did
feel like it was labouring this a touch.
I think with work this could be a more appealing book, and much closer to
Bobby Tsui’s vision, I’m sure, but there are those big questions left
outstanding. Tsui sets the location and
the atmosphere well and his vision of the future is an engrossing one: bleak
without being too defeatist, as this genre has a tendency to do. The backstory, of a devastating pandemic in
the mid-21st century, is timely and sensitively portrayed, with human
stories. In short, Tsui is a writer with
a lot of good to say, and it would be nice to see the book much more coherently
articulated. That said, for fans of the
near-future sci-fi genre, this is not a bad book, with an interesting, high-fantasy-hybrid
premise, and worth a look, though I would definitely like to see it given a
good creative makeover.
In : Book Reviews