Science Fiction is probably the most open genre there is, an author can pretty do whatever they like. This may have been the thought process of Jeff Vandermeer when writing `Veniss Underground', as he not only threw the kitchen sink at the book, but also the washing machine, oven and kettle. Split into three narratives `Veniss' tells the story of Nicholas, Nicola and Shadrach and their wondrous journey through the land of Veniss. It starts off strangely as Nicholas' narration is hard to follow, he is a futuristic artist and his writing style is almost gibberish. Things settle down when following his sister Nicola, only to get most bizarre with Shadrach.
There are some great ideas in `Veniss', especially in the middle section. Artificially created Meerkats act as servants to the rich and famous, but do they have a hidden agenda? When the final, and largest, section of the book begins, we go from the strange and interesting, into the plain crazy. Vandermeer loses his way as Shadrach stampedes through too many different places all in the same world; underground mines, mountains of limbs, strange seas. A confused story entirely loses its way and you become less lost in the world of Veniss and more lost in a world of confused storytelling.
`Veniss' is a book that peaks halfway through, as it borders on the crazy, but remains one step aloof. When Vandermeer does let his imagination run riot, it is at the sake of a coherent narrative. The many great ideas in the book make it worthwhile reading for harder science fiction fans, everyone else is best off giving it a miss.