My love for certain Brit writers brings me to Amazon's UK site, as I don't care to wait for Americanized versions, which are often released many months later, if at all. (Gotta love the Internet for these things!) Anyway...
Being a huge fan of Noon, I had some high hopes for this book, his first apparently 'real' novel in a while. And indeed, as I kept reading, I was drawn deeply into it. The lead players in the story are united in a quest to retrieve pieces of a mirror that possesses some type of power, related in some way to a sickness that has befallen humanity. I won't even try to describe it, but to put it simply, the disease affects peoples' ability to process 'reality' - the world around them - in many ways, and to varying degrees. The disease is held in check, but only somewhat, by a drug called Lucidity.
Falling Out of Cars is, I suppose, a 'road novel' as much as any, a succession of destinations, scenes, and locales, each progressively more bizarre than the last. Some of the scenes portrayed within will remain forever etched in my mind, especially one in which the protagonist enters a theater to retrieve a piece of a mirror (the driving moitvation for the group's ongoing quest and the reason for the road trip). As any reader of his past work would expect, Noon's put some truly brilliant, original ideas to paper here, as always. I could rip out a couple of my favourite chapters and feel I'd gotten my money's worth.
Falling Out of Cars succeeds in many ways, but for this reader, it lacked the one thing that a book of this nature so desperately needs after such a long, strange quest: closure. A 'journey's end.' I understand that not all novels require a Hollywood ending, and that's fine. But this one seems to lack any at all. It seems about 4 chapters shy of being complete. Were it made into a screenplay, and what a film it could be, the ending would definitely be altered.
That being said, I'd give this book a very strong 5 stars for the ideas, dreamscapes, and wonderful prose. Noon's writing here is as terse as ever, but he still manages to paint scenes as vividly as any modern writer. He doesn't waste a word. But I just felt deeply dissatisfied and saddened by the conclusion. Along the quest, we're often treated to glimpses of a path with an ending to it. But instead, the novel itself seems to fall prey to the sickness endured by our travelers, and I, for one, was deeply disappointed by any sense of closure. Which is all that much more saddening, as it's just inches away of having 'blockbuster' status. For the story/narrative aspect, it's 3 stars, and I'm being generous.
In a scholarly sense, the book's a backlash to the information overload in modern culture and its effect on the human psyche. Someday, perhaps, it'll be cited in, or required reading, for college coursework as commentary for the era we live in....
If you're already a Noon fan, get it, and enjoy the scenery while it lasts. If you're new to Noon, opt instead for Vurt (then Pollen and Nymphomation) and don't miss Pixel Juice, a fantastic collection of Noon's shorter works.