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Igenix IG6751 Counter Top Freezer with Lock, 35 Litre, Stainless Steel
Igenix IG6751 Counter Top Freezer with Lock, 35 Litre, Stainless Steel
Price: £123.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Convenient small freezer, 23 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The main thing to consider about the Igenix IG6751 is its size. It is relatively small, it doesn't hold a great deal, but as a worktop freezer that's what you want. It's not going to take up a lot of space when you don't have a lot of space to spare, but it's big enough nonetheless to cater for storage of a reasonable amount of small packages. If you're happy with that, then in terms of operation this is a lovely quality little item that serves its purpose well.

Noise can be a problem with some freezers, but it's not much of an issue with the Igenix IG6751. Most of the time it's silent but when it does make noise you can barely hear it. Evidently, you need a stable flat surface to place it on, and that will reduce any additional vibration of the electronics. There are two adjustable legs at the front to ensure you get this right. It can take a bit of fiddling to get it to sit properly, but only a minute or two to get it right.

The storage space is smaller than you might think, even considering the size of the freezer box itself. There is a removable shelf divider, which if taken out it would allow something tall and thin to go in, but the two-shelf format will probably be the most common arrangement, and it allows stacking of most common frozen goods. The fact that the Igenix Counter Top is small, relatively light, making good use of space and capable of storing a modest amount of frozen goods, but most significantly the fact that it has a lock, I'm guessing that this is made with student accommodation in mind. Whether its for that purpose or just to have that extra little freezer space to store food, this is a quality item and good value.


Mozart: Die Zauberflote [Brindly Sherratt; Maximilliam Schmitt; Nina Lejderman; Netherlands Chamber Orchestra; Chorus of Dutch Natonal Opera] [OPUS ARTE: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray]
Mozart: Die Zauberflote [Brindly Sherratt; Maximilliam Schmitt; Nina Lejderman; Netherlands Chamber Orchestra; Chorus of Dutch Natonal Opera] [OPUS ARTE: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Simon McBurney
Price: £29.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The magic is all in the music, 7 Feb. 2015
You can't really argue with Simon McBurney's approach to Die Zauberflöte in this production at the Dutch National Opera. The director recognises that a child-like simplicity is needed to present the fresh look on the enlightened world that Mozart and Schikaneder's work looks towards, but at the same time there's a need to avoid the danger of the message getting lost or seen as utopian if the production is played too much like a fairytale or a pantomime. The difficulty is in how to achieve this simplicity without losing the magic that is also a necessary part of the work.

The production seems to be aiming for a freer 'live' or improvisational feel, but it feels a little bit over-worked to really achieve that aim. The birds that Papageno hunts, for example, are represented by a dozen extras running around the stage flickering pages from the score. It's a nice idea, but it feels like a lot of work for little benefit or impact. The same can be said of the use of a visible foley artist in a box at the side of the stage to create live sound effects. Other aspects of Michael Levine's stage designs are similarly low-fi in technology terms, the main stage device being a platform that is raised and lowered as required. Costumes too have a grungy feel and seem to have little consistency. What does work well however are the projections, the hand-drawn chalk titles and the magnified sets that use a bookcase for the temple of wisdom.

The real magic of The Magic Flute is, as its title suggests, in the music itself. More than anything else, Mozart's score convincingly makes the case that art and music can lead to the betterment of man and perhaps even change the world, and Albrecht's conducting of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra is just gorgeous. There's a wonderful lightness of touch that works perfectly with the singers and supports the spontaneity of the production, with vividness, energy and delicacy according to the mood of the scene. McBurney meaningfully exploits the interaction between the pit and the stage, having musicians from the orchestra step up to play the flute and the keyboard glockenspiel, as well as actors occasionally stepping down into the pit.

The singing is first-rate and perfect for the production. Maximilian Shmitt is outstanding as Tamino and perfectly matched with Christina Landshamer's Pamina, even if she doesn't quite sail through some of the more challenging parts of the opera. Both however have a lyrical sweetness, clarity of enunciation and good projection, giving lively performances. There's no high-powered singing here - with the exception possibly of Iride Martinez's strong Königin der Nacht - but everyone fits in with the delicate tone of the musical performance. If all the magic isn't there in the production design, the musical and singing performances nonetheless make this wholly as great as only Die Zauberflöte can be.

I would think this production would have been a difficult one to capture on video, and the HD transfer of the largely dark stage consequently isn't as impressive as you usually find. Technically however, there are no problems and all the detail is there. The audio tracks are marvellous, the singing clear, but the music in particular has a warmth and detail that reveals the beauty of individual playing. The usual DNO backstage feature on the production is entertaining and informative. The Blu-ray is region-free, subtitles are in English, French, German, Dutch, Japanese and Korean.


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage[COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI & HIS][Hardcover]
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage[COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI & HIS][Hardcover]
by HarukiMurakami
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars South of the Norwegian Border After Dark, 6 Feb. 2015
Love it or hate it, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is on the Norwegian Wood side of Haruki Murakami's writing, dealing with personality issues and difficult relationships, but it still has the author's familiar diversions into surrealism, magic realism, post-modernism or whatever you want to call the dream-like flights of imagination and strange connections that his sensitive characters establish with the world around them.

At the heart of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is a typically sensitive young man, a misfit with emotional problems who struggles with relationships. It wasn't always that way, Tazaki once an equal part of a close-knit group of five friends in Nagoya. Murakami's unique outlook on the dynamic of the group is interesting, each of the two boys and two girls having a name that refers to a colour, while Tazaki is "colourless". And in some ways that reflect how Tazaki sees himself. When Tazaki leaves to go to university in Tokyo, he finds himself inexplicably banished from having any further contact with his friends. Tazaki's life and outlook is profoundly affected by this until 16 years later when he goes back looking for answers.

The questions Murakami grapples with in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki are the familiar psychological issues of identity, sexuality and death that are covered in Norwegian Wood, mixed with feelings of guilt, sin and questions of evil. Some of the situations and character types are similar to that book, but given a bit more of a latter-day Murakami spin, with the surreal nightmarish qualities of After Dark and the heightened sexual situations of South of the Border, West of the Sun. Instead of the Beatles, this time we also have Liszt, so all the usual Murakami tropes are in there.

Which makes you wonder whether Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage has anything new to offer from this author. It doesn't really, but it is still a good read and is possibly something of a pilgrimage for the author himself, going back to revisit a youthful work, explore its mysteries with a more mature outlook, and even in some way seek - as Colorless Tsukuru does - to 'exorcise the evil spirit' that still has a hold over him to some extent. Sometimes it's best leaving the mystery alone, but there's still a lot of unanswered questions in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and a lot of classic Murakami here.

incidentally, for those who still care about such matters and haven't yet moved to a Kindle, the US Knopf hardcover edition of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage is a beauty to behold, with gorgeous graphic design and a compact size that is a joy to hold in your hands. Such matters are not incidental to the pleasure of reading Murakami.


Nikon COOLPIX L31 Compact Digital Camera - (16.1 MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 2.7-Inch LCD - Black
Nikon COOLPIX L31 Compact Digital Camera - (16.1 MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 2.7-Inch LCD - Black
Price: £59.49

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fine art of Nikon, 6 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are some products, mentioning no names or brands, that are continually upgraded to new models, new versions and new software, and it's rare that any of them offer any real improvements on what has gone before. Quite the opposite. More often it's just a change to make the previous model obsolete and force you to buy a new one with a load of features you don't need and won't use. Not so Nikon cameras. While there is certainly a range of models to suit the beginner, the amateur photographer and the professional, in my experience Nikon cameras just get better. The have the making of cameras down to a fine art.

As far as the Nikon COOLPIX L31 goes, it really is a case of making the best technology available to a good value camera with the best possible quality and results. In terms of simplicity of use alone, the Nikon most definitely have the operations down to a fine art. It may be a case of familiarity with the symbols on the menu selection system, but you can pick this COOLPIX L31 up and start using without really having to even consult the manual. If something works well enough, why change it and make it confusing and awkward to use? Setting up picture quality options and preferences, flash on/off, quality etc. is all easy and sorted with a couple of clicks. If you want to just point and shoot, even that is no problem. There's even a button for one-touch video recording.

OK, 16 Megapixels is probably much more detail than you're ever likely to need for casual use, but why settle for less? Whether differences are distinguishable or not, the fact is that the quality of the image is superb. The special effects aren't great but they aren't important either - monochrome, sepia, shading, colour tone manipulation. Done in-camera however, they are easy to apply, creating a new copy each time. The most bizarre (pointless?) feature is the 'smile detector' for portraits. Faces are detected readily enough for auto-focus on autoselector, but the camera finds it difficult to lock focus when photographing anything else in dim light.

In terms of what you get and don't get with this package, there's a strap, a USB cable and batteries included with the camera. You will however need a high capacity memory card with a fast class if you want to shoot video as well. This is not included. The camera can take up to 128Gb SDXC and SDHC. Without an SD card, you can take about 4 photographs on the camera. A 2Gb SD card will allow you to take about 200 photos at 16 megapixels, or two-and-a-half minutes of video. I can't tell the limits of a 64Gb card, as the count only goes up to 9999, so it's more than that (no, I'm not sure how the maths works either). A 64Gb card will give you around 25 minutes of video. The camera is compact, small and very neat, solidly constructed. Hard to beat.


The Lives of Women
The Lives of Women
by Christine Dwyer Hickey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly circumspect, 5 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Lives of Women (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
By the time you get to the end of The Lives of Women, there's a feeling of incompleteness, of important things left unsaid, but considering the subject and the nature of the lives of the women concerned, that could be intentional. Whether that makes for an entirely satisfactory reading experience, maybe not, but what holds the reader is the possibility of a terrible revelation that is continually hinted at but always seems to be skirted around. You almost wonder whether the whole purpose of the book is to avoid confronting a dark secret that might not turn out to be all that big a deal. Again, this reticence reflects in a lot of ways the mindset of the life that Elaine, the main character in the novel, has lived with all her life.

The revelation does eventually come, but whether it turns out to be a big deal or not, I'll not say, but what you can figure out is that the 'unfortunate tragedy' in the past that was serious enough to never be spoken of again. It would also apparently lead to Elaine being shipped off to New York at the age of 16, only to return to her home after the death of her mother over 30 years later. The descriptions of life on the street aren't particularly gripping - a familiar scene from the 70s where male and female English middle-class family roles are rigidly defined and not particularly liberated for these women. The housewives G&T parties, repressed passions and suspicions of adultery are all very Mike Leigh, but there's a subtle darkness there and a notable change in the temperature when an American mother and daughter arrive.

The setting and the characters feel authentic, the unsatisfied, repressed empty existences of the mothers and housewives leading to familiar problems with drinking and infidelity, with one particularly bad incident evidently on a crashing level that changes everything. Elaine, having lived the rest of her life at a distance and coming back after a long period in a different era, is not entirely objective or disinterested, but her way of dealing with the past gives it a particular perspective and resonance. Once the actual revelation comes though, the author seems to have nowhere else to go, so a lot rides on how you react to it. It might not seem entirely satisfactory, but when you come away from reading The Lives of Women, you realise that you have a surprisingly fuller picture of life from Elaine's perspective, and that the book has been all the more effective for its subtlety and circumspection.


Leviathan [Blu-ray]
Leviathan [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Elena Lyadova
Price: £14.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confronting the beast, 20 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Leviathan [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Andrey Zvyagintsev's latest film appears to be a little more Russian in character than his previous films, or perhaps it's just that it's a little more arthouse styled and less western cinema influenced in its dramatic progression. Russia and particularly the Russian landscape has however been an important part of the director's previous films, and he's combined that well with the personal dramas and crime-drama elements of those other films. Those are all still there in Leviathan, but there is a subtle shift in the balance, where the filmmaker recognises the real force of the Russian character (reflected in the landscape) and the nature of its society for the impact it has on individual lives. The result is an impressive and daring piece of filmmaking.

Impressive all the more so for its subtlety. It might not appear subtle in how it arranges for portraits of the current and past Russian leaders to be prominently displayed at certain points in the film, but the implications are significant to the surface story of endemic political abuse and corruption in Russian society. Even skeletal and washed up on a beach, the Leviathan is still a force to be reckoned with should any individual get in its way or attempt to foolishly take a stand against it. You aren't aware of this at first, and wonder why Dmitri, the lawyer-friend hired by Kolya to prevent the seizure of his home for a new development doesn't appear to be a little more confident of his position and the success of the appeal. He clearly has compromising evidence of corruption and goodness knows what other activities the mayor has been hiding, but it seems he is actually aware of the risks involved in disturbing the slumbering leviathan, and sure enough, without you quite knowing how, the beast has turned.

This impression is enforced by the subtlety of Zvyagintsev's treatment. He makes very few explicit statements and it takes a rather long time for the beast to turn around in this long film, but its impact when it arrives is devastating. Structurally, the film also makes a similar case, the ending mirroring the beginning, starting with a court case and ending with one, with images of the coastline and the landscape unchanged but for the seasons (or authority figures who come and go), indicating that, despite the huge upheaval and the impact on the lives of a number of individuals who challenges these immovable institutions in the space in-between, it has barely registered on the huge bulk of the slow-moving monster that continues on it unstoppable course.


Cupertino
Cupertino
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Generation Now, 15 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Cupertino (Kindle Edition)
From Bret Easton Ellis to Donna Tartt's Goldfinch, is there a movement in recent literature that is warning us of a new "lost generation"? Is this something we should be worried about, or is it something that has always been there, and part of the generational divide? From Salinger's Holden Caulfield, but probably even before then, the change to the modern world has undoubtedly caused emotional problems for lost youths looking for love, security and stability in their lives. If seen in that respect, Matt Szymanowski's Cupertino is probably nothing new, but there is a growing sense from this latest account that the modern lifestyle is indeed generating an increasingly dysfunctional society.

In Cupertino we are introduced to another young man who isn't exactly an orphan, but might as well be. Stevo and his friends are all about good times, enjoying life to the max - parties, girls, drink, drugs, porn and sometimes running into trouble with the authorities and rival youths. Something however just isn't right. Stevo is fully plugged into the world, but is unable to grasp hold of it or make sense of it all. At 16, the simplicity of childhood is gone and life still hasn't taken on a new meaning. Stevo seems to be unable to control his destiny, or has perhaps abdicated any responsibility for it, but what's to control when every freedom is there for the taking?

Or perhaps Stevo's lifestyle is just taking its toll. The narrative and writing of Cupertino corresponds to this disintegration of any kind of semblance of form or passage of time. Like The Goldfinch, it captures the same sense of inability to find meaning in a modern society where relationships are not valued or are impossible to form in any meaningful sense. Stylistically however, it's about as far away from Donna Tartt as you can get, feeling more authentically of the generation the author is writing about. Instead of an old Dutch Master painting, there's a blank advertisement with the words 'YOU ARE HERE' that haunts Stevo's imagination, but where is here, and how did he get there?

There are a few clues scattered around in Stevo's relationship with his parents, a few stories about his missing brother Roman, but Stevo's psychiatrist isn't going to make anything of it, and it's left open to the reader to determine their significance. As the story takes an increasingly sinister turn however - with some very graphic sex scenes and considerable drug consumption - all of it clearly points to a life going off the rails, or one that has perhaps already gone off them and is grasping around for something to hold onto to find a way back. The conclusion offers the possibility for some redemption in this respect, but if the final scene is a little more conventional than what comes before, not quite having the nihilistic edge of Bret Easton Ellis, it does feel authentic and still leaves options open.

The freeflowing style of the narrative and the matter-of-factness of Matt Szymanowski's writing elsewhere give Cupertino something of a surreal edge at times, showing us a world that comes close to JG Ballard's premonitions of a terminally corrupt and morally uninhibited society where everyone can indulge their most perverse desires. Some references are made in passing to American society, to Bush politics and international perspectives, but it's background noise and there's nothing here that helps ground Stevo in the 'real world'. There's no moralising however in Szymanowski story, no premonitory outlook, no guarantee of redemption. This is how it is, this is now, YOU ARE HERE.


Verdi:Don Carlo [Ramon Vargas; Svetlana Kasyan; Ildar Abdrazakov; Ludovic Tezier; Orchestra and Chorus of Teatre Regio; Torino] [OPUS ARTE: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Verdi:Don Carlo [Ramon Vargas; Svetlana Kasyan; Ildar Abdrazakov; Ludovic Tezier; Orchestra and Chorus of Teatre Regio; Torino] [OPUS ARTE: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Verdi
Price: £28.36

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive effort but not quite total opera, 11 Jan. 2015
First presented in Paris in French as a five-act grand opera, the challenging length and nature of Don Carlos meant that it would undergo several further revisions, but in whichever version it's presented, this remains one of Verdi's greatest works and one of the most impressive spectacles in all of opera. That impression is upheld by the 2013 Teatro Regio di Torino production of the 1884 four-act version of Don Carlo even if the musical performance and singing are not quite up to the considerable demands of this challenging opera.

The 1884 version drops the whole of the original Act I, where Don Carlo first meets and immediately falls in love with his promised bride Elisabeth of Valois in the gardens of Fontainebleau. This has the consequence of shifting the emphasis from love story to brotherhood, family and duty, but openings with a funeral and an apparition rather than the romantic encounter of the five-act version of the work, this sets the tone for a work that is still a highly charged drama. This tone comes through most successfully in the Turin production, with monumental sets, stone pillars, the ceremonial, religious and regal formality and richness of the costume designs all contributing to a sense of deeply serious intrigue and dark drama. It's a grandeur that matches Verdi's vision. and intensity of purpose, a major spectacle that looks every inch the ultimate expression of opera, which in many ways Don Carlo is.

While the epic scope is all there on the stage, the level of nuance and psychological probing that needs to be expressed through the playing and the singing just doesn't live up to the exceptional demands of Verdi's score here in the Turin production. It's a heavy and oppressive work, but even so Gianandrea Noseda's management of the pace and tone of the work is quite leaden, never finding the light and shade that is there to reflect the shifting themes and personalities. There's a lot demanded of the singers too, but despite the fact that the cast here is an exceptionally good one, it's hard to feel that any of them are right for the roles. Ildar Abdrazakov comes out best, his singing capable, controlled and authoritative as Philip II, but Ramón Vargas' voice has lost much of its former force as Carlo and Elisabeth is much too big a role for Svetlana Kasyan. Even the wonderful Daniela Barcellona is pushed by the excessive demands of this work, but even if they are unable to get across the full measure of Verdi's brilliance, the Turin production is still impressive, and you are never in doubt that this is one of the greatest creations in all opera.

The production looks stunning in High Definition on the Blu-ray release, the image crystal clear, the sets looking impressive with bold colouration and strong contrasts. The singers are not wearing radio mics so it can be a little echoing, but there's a rich dark tone to the orchestration that is warm and enveloping, with good presence in the DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 mix. There's a deep low-frequency boom on the surround mix which has most impact during the Grand Inquisitor scene. The only extra feature on the disc is a Cast Gallery, but there's an essay on the creation of the work and a synopsis in the booklet. Subtitles are in English, French, German, Japanese and Korean.


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South of the Norwegian Border After Dark, 11 Jan. 2015
Love it or hate it, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is on the Norwegian Wood side of Haruki Murakami's writing, dealing with personality issues and difficult relationships, but it still has the author's familiar diversions into surrealism, magic realism, post-modernism or whatever you want to call the dream-like flights of imagination and strange connections that his sensitive characters establish with the world around them.

At the heart of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is a typically sensitive young man, a misfit with emotional problems who struggles with relationships. It wasn't always that way, Tazaki once an equal part of a close-knit group of five friends in Nagoya. Murakami's unique outlook on the dynamic of the group is interesting, each of the two boys and two girls having a name that refers to a colour, while Tazaki is "colourless". And in some ways that reflect how Tazaki sees himself. When Tazaki leaves to go to university in Tokyo, he finds himself inexplicably banished from having any further contact with his friends. Tazaki's life and outlook is profoundly affected by this until 16 years later when he goes back looking for answers.

The questions Murakami grapples with in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki are the familiar psychological issues of identity, sexuality and death that are covered in Norwegian Wood, mixed with feelings of guilt, sin and questions of evil. Some of the situations and character types are similar to that book, but given a bit more of a latter-day Murakami spin, with the surreal nightmarish qualities of After Dark and the heightened sexual situations of South of the Border, West of the Sun. Instead of the Beatles, this time we also have Liszt, so all the usual Murakami tropes are in there.

Which makes you wonder whether Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage has anything new to offer from this author. It doesn't really, but it is still a good read and is possibly something of a pilgrimage for the author himself, going back to revisit a youthful work, explore its mysteries with a more mature outlook, and even in some way seek - as Colorless Tsukuru does - to 'exorcise the evil spirit' that still has a hold over him to some extent. Sometimes it's best leaving the mystery alone, but there's still a lot of unanswered questions in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and a lot of classic Murakami here.

incidentally, for those who still care about such matters and haven't yet moved to a Kindle, the US Knopf hardcover edition of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage is a beauty to behold, with gorgeous graphic design and a compact size that is a joy to hold in your hands. Such matters are not incidental to the pleasure of reading Murakami.


Authority (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
Authority (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
by Jeff VanderMeer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Strung out and still waiting for answers, 11 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you didn't already know how dangerous a place Area X is from Annihilation, the first of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, by the time you start reading Authority and get the first glimpse of the world outside that is trying to explore and contain it, the full horror of the phenomenon starts to become apparent. By the end of the Authority too, the mystery, the danger and the scope of the trilogy's concept takes a leap to another level, but in-between it has to be said, there's a lot of confusion and inconsistency in this middle section of the work as a whole.

Annihilation took us straight into Area X with an expedition exploring a section of costal landscape that exhibits strange and dangerous phenomena, posing a threat to the Southern Reach. Previous expeditions have been unsuccessful and have resulted in deaths, disappearances and damage to individuals who have been part of the exploration teams. In Authority, a new director called Control, has been assigned to investigate and interrogate members of the expedition covered in Annihilation, an expedition that resulted in the death of the team leader, who it turns out was the previous director. It's the strange behaviour of the biologist that intrigues Control, the woman - who calls now calls herself Ghost Bird - having evidently experienced and being capable of recalling more than previous visitors to Area X.

If the first book in the trilogy was an intriguing opening that left many questions enticingly unanswered, Authority gives a little more background and history into the appearance of Area X, the nature of the region, and the fates of previous expeditions and attempts to understand and contain the region, but it doesn't really provide many answers. While Area X remains the centre of interest, Authority tends to work around it, and doesn't at this stage go where you might expect the middle part of the trilogy might take you. Much of the book deals with Control's ambiguous mission, part of it a spying operation, part of it a battle of wits with the assistant director, and much of it connected to Control's personal and family background, particularly with his mother, who is also an important official for the Southern Reach.

VanderMeer's focus (or lack of focus) and his writing style in Authority don't allow answers to be easily found. It's still difficult to establish any concrete impression of the world that this is all taking place in, what exactly the Southern Reach is, and how the government and its agents operate, particularly as hypnosis, psychosis, espionage and inter-factional rivalry complicates matters considerably. As for Area X, ...well, by the times the mists start clearing at the end of this second part, the alien phenomenon reasserts itself and extends its significance quite dramatically. Where this takes things is anyone's guess, so despite the middle section being far from satisfactory, the intrigue to see this through to the conclusion remains. I suspect however that we're just being strung along, and are unlikely to see any meaningful resolution here.


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