5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Mediocre, 8 Sept. 2008
This "novel" is actually a collection of short stories chopped straight down the middle.This has allowed the author to spin off a fair amount of formulaic writing but to excuse having done so on account of this unusual approach. This also lacks merit as a literary device because the often poor characterisation means that on reaching the later stages of the book a strong indifference arises regarding both the characters and plot developments. The metafictive attempts to interrelate the different short stories are clumsy, and the broadly Nietzschean / Foucaltian commentary on power that underpins the book is weak and unconvincing. On a more positive note this book is sometimes humorous, and Mitchell is at his best when he plays closest to home; the sarcastic English intellectuals of the Frobisher / Cavendash stories are quite amusing and well written. The Slooshin' Crossing story is also quite entertaining despite lifting heavily from the canon; in particular the Crysalids and the Handmaiden's Tale. By contrast the Sonmi story is a load of derivative tripe, and the Pacific Journal story is a joke. Too often the story descends into a windy bag of clichés, and the authors ironic self-criticism only serves to highlight rather than excuse its unoriginality. All in all this is not a serious work of fiction, nor should it be considered as such despite the praise it has received.