Sunday, 24 February 2013

Book Review: News from Gardenia

So I've been pootling about on Google+ for a while now rather than hanging out booking face and I ended up following Robert Llewellyn on there. It turns out that he's involved with a new set up called Unbound, that I've mentioned on here before, and that he had published a book through them some time last year. I liked the cut of the jib of that book and said as much to Anna, quite frequently actually, so that she ended up getting me the book for Christmas. Which was nice.

I, of course, did what I usually do with books that I get as gifts and entered the world of that book, reading it in pretty much every free moment that I had from getting up in a morning to going to bed at night and so finished reading it in about three days. It was a good book.

Would you like to know more?

So what? It means that the time has come for me to offer a review of the News from Gardenia on here as part of my ongoing plan to keep this place updating semi-regularly and maybe even have something up here for people to actually read regularly. I mean, I know that there are some people who read this (because I know the people) but even so...

The book is not the best written that I've had the pleasure to read, the style is a little hurried and, well, it doesn't take time to breathe or to spread out. In many ways the characterisation and plot come second place, and a very distant second place, to the concept and conceit that has been attempted. Basically it is a book about a future where human beings have got 'it' right and are living in harmony with their surroundings. Something that is pretty rare so far as I can tell. However, even that conceit doesn't last long, there are clearly areas of this world and the way it works that Llewellyn hasn't really thought through - either through not having time in the schedule to write it or through simply not considering it before he was writing the scene - and this would suggest that the world is much richer than the book allows it to be. What am I saying?

I really enjoyed the book, I thought that the characters were alive enough not to be cardboard cut-outs even if I couldn't always follow their thought processes or motivations (much like real people) and the plot was fine as it stood - getting someone from our now to travel into the future and offer a modern commentary on what could yet be. There were places where the whole thing was hasty and hurried, and I ascribe these to a desire on the part of Llewellyn to stick to a schedule and write it in a given time frame. These do not make it a bad book. But I am hyper-critical. I wanted there to be more of the book. The main character goes on a round the world trip and gets to see what is happening in other areas of the world - which is great and I get why that is truncated, the plot device used to get him out there also allowed him to not stay long and so it was fitting that we learn only enough to whet our appetites and be frustrated at the lack of clear picture that emerges, in much the same way as we would if we were to travel the world today.

But the last few scenes in the book are too quickly done. There was an ending lurking in there and some form of contentment to be reached that was not. I was disappointed. Now, given that this is the first book in a trilogy, I understand that not all the loose ends could be wrapped up character-wise, but I would have liked a little more time to appreciate the situation before it was ripped from the main character. Because that deserved more depth of treatment and the world deserved to have a little more time devoted to it and exploring the mundane.

Overall, I would recommend this to pretty much anyone, it's well worth a read and well worth being part of a library. It's more expensive than I'm used to paying for a book, from Unbound, but I'd say it is well worth that price. I just think it could, and perhaps should, have been even better.

No comments:

Post a Comment