However, beyond this, I found myself a little frustrated, and increasingly so as the book went on. My first issue was with the syntax. As mentioned, Bertrand writes immensely creative and intelligent prose, deep and detailed, and the book reads almost like academia at times. It features profoundly sourced fictional reference material, articulated with remarkable knowledge, and some genuinely stirring anecdotal legends. But – and this is a very big but – the sentence construction was riddled with tense discrepancy; it chopped and changed from past to present and back, relentlessly throughout, sometimes several times in a single sentence. I try not to focus too heavily on grammar in reviews, but this was so prevalent it was impossible to ignore, and it would not be untrue to say that it presented a huge distraction when reading. For a book a little short of 120,000 words, this unsurprisingly became laborious. Furthermore, it was such a defining feature of this work it is simply impossible for me not to mention it. A second big drawback for me, after several days of reading, was the appearance at the close of those dreaded words “To be continued”. I don’t think I’m spoiling the ending by letting you know about this, and indeed think you should know in advance, but to be honest this book is something of a self-contained opus or odyssey in its own right, so adding an open end was something of an unnecessity.
As the book progressed, it became less about the clever sci-fi and in fact a satire on American politics today, which I wasn’t keen on; I’m no fan of Donald Trump in any way or by any means, but this book became little more than an absurd anti-Trump/Nazi speculative allegory, the Republican right being entirely and wholly responsible for the brainwashing virus which causes centuries-long damage. The book descends now into little more than pure comedic rhetoric. Indeed, some of the fantasy projections this book creates about the future of the Trump family become pretty unpleasant, offensive and indeed very nasty; because of this, I suspect the book may appeal more to Trump haters than sci-fi lovers, it swerves that dramatically. It is a shame, because I believe the book would have been much better in its right, rather than catching that particular bandwagon, source material which seems to have spawned its own market for authors in recent years. Until this point, the sci-fi teetered on being literary fiction; by the end it is simply high-caricature mock-propaganda. Moreover, it starts to become clear that this is the book’s real objective. I recommend it to a point, but I think I was definitely far more impressed with the writer’s talent specifically. As for the book, the subject matter will either be up your street or it won’t, and this will definitely polarize your opinion, one way or the other.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: mark-bertrand sci-fi satire political futuristic dystopia