Monday, August 26, 2019

COME TO DUST by Bracken Macleod

There's so much dramatic potential in a story that focuses on the death of a child and their subsequent and questionable "return." How do you reckon with the horrifying implications of a child being reanimated from the dead, when all you feel is happiness at their return?

This book tackles this idea and its opening third shows so much promise, with an ex-con struggling to make ends meet as he's trying to keep his niece safe after his sister abandoned her, and having to face his greatest fear when she dies. Then, after a number of kids around the world inexplicably wake from the dead, he has to deal with her return. This first third is emotional, deliberate and well-paced, really putting you in the protagonist's shoes. 

But the final two-thirds of the novel betrays all of that as it devolves into a generic and forgettable action thriller that loses most of the thoughtfulness that it promises in the beginning. It doesn't go very far at all in the exploration of its great conceit, and that's pretty disappointing. 


Friday, August 2, 2019

RECURSION by Blake Crouch

This might be one of the most batshit crazy novels I've read in a while. It features a high-concept plot that I'm not sure didn't contradict itself and break it's own rules, but it's so complicated and so damn entertaining that I didn't have the time or the brainpower to pick it apart. And I kinda don't care either. Similar in design and tone to Blake Crouch's previous banger, Dark Matter, this novel begins as a curious mystery about false memory and builds from there into something that I'll only describe in two words: MEMORY. WARS. If that's not enough to get you to buy this book right now, I don't know what would.

In it's final third, the book starts to fly off the rails. But instead of simply plummeting to a fiery death in the canyon of silliness, it sprouts wings and starts to soar on it's own winds. It really is awesome to witness a writer so in command of his work, and have the balls to be able to pull something like this off. And not only does the book have moments of high-concept, speculative brilliance, but (like Dark Matter before it) Crouch also never sacrifices character depth and emotional weight. By the end, the novel stays memorable not only for it's sci-fi flair, but also for the journey with the characters. It's possible that a better novel might come out this year, but I'm willing to bet money that there won't be one that does it with as much style.