Customer Reviews


127 Reviews
5 star:
 (63)
4 star:
 (27)
3 star:
 (16)
2 star:
 (11)
1 star:
 (10)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm confused more by the reviews than the book
I just don't get all the criticism that has been levelled at this book: it is certainly one of the best books I have ever read. Don't get me wrong, it is complex, convoluted and verbose. These are precisely the things that make it superb. The book is very, very clever (which may explain why some people are so opposed to it); very, very violent (which may explain why some...
Published on 16 Jun 2010 by Mr. D. J. Hill

versus
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable epic, but no easy read
Always a fan of post-apocalyptic plots, I wasn't disappointed by Harkaway's exploration of his particular ideas about a reconstructed, shattered world. An eclectic mix of shock and dark humour, and some engaging, expertly drawn characters mean that there is a lot to get your teeth into. The idea of the inevitable cycle of rise and fall is played out in an intriguing...
Published on 27 Jun 2008 by R. WEST-SOLEY


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm confused more by the reviews than the book, 16 Jun 2010
By 
Mr. D. J. Hill (Cardiff) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Hardcover)
I just don't get all the criticism that has been levelled at this book: it is certainly one of the best books I have ever read. Don't get me wrong, it is complex, convoluted and verbose. These are precisely the things that make it superb. The book is very, very clever (which may explain why some people are so opposed to it); very, very violent (which may explain why some people are so opposed to it); very, very funny (which may explain why some people are so opposed to it) and very, very enjoyable (which probably doesn't explain why some people are so opposed to it, but you can never tell). Whenever I run out of books to read (which is often, since I read 3 to 4 books a week, if not more), I always come back to this and everytime i do I love it. After all, what's not to love? Ninjas, Pirates, post-apocalyptic world, very bad bad-guys, very bad good-guys, murder, kidnap, intrigue and social divide.

And did I mention funny? Because it really needs to be stated at least twice. Admittedly, the first time I read it, I needed to consult a dictionary more than once (and that's quite impressive- I'm rather wordy myself), and several times I needed to google up some reference or another. However, it was all worth it. I find myself waiting to see what Mr Harkaway puts out next. It's either going to be truly magnificent or complete and utter tosh. Either way, I'll give it a go!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The apocalypse has never been funnier, 8 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Paperback)
"If we one day cease to exist, what will be remarkable is that we were ever here at all."

What I love about post-apocalyptic novels is that pretty much anything can happen in it. And it happens in John le Carre's Son's first novel.
At the beginning at the story, most of the the world has exactly done what the title says, gone away.The reasons for that happening, and how some of the world was saved by the Jorgmund Pipe seem to have something to do with a band of adventurers , who, as the story opens, are being called upon to save the world. Again.
The narrator recounts his schooling, his training in kung fu (with Master Wu), his student-politics days and his work at a top-secret military installation where they are building a fancy weapon. Then he is sent off to war, the fancy weapon is used, and the world goes all post-apocalyptic.
From there it goes all comic from horse/men monsters to "shark things with legs" and arguments about the use of sheep in the battlefield ("A warsheep would be a cross between a dolphin and a small, limber elephant." ). Evil ninjas("Ninjas are silly. They are the flower fairies of gong fu and karate." )and a pack of very strange but harmless mimes.("I have known heaven, and now I am in hell, and there are mimes." )

It's a beautiful love story too.I had to laugh out loud when a particularly boring and sentimental sequence before the climax is interrupted rudely by the lovable military combat instructor Ronnie Cheung, who calls everyone "Bumhole" and now insists, effectively, that they get on with the bloody story.(more Ronnie Cheung moments are needed ).
It's like Joseph Heller,-Stephen King,-Ben Elton,-Ian M Banks together writing a story...on drugs kind of novel.It's funny , intelligent, philosophical and after 200 pages into it I wished that it never will end.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Gone Away Too-Quickly World, 25 Jun 2008
By 
J. Charlesworth (Lewes, E. Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a fan of weird dystopian fiction, so I looked forward eagerly to receiving my copy of The Gone Away World for review. Apart from a few minor points, I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read- and a surprisingly quick one for such a thick volume. If you don't like deliberate eccentricity, then this is probably not a book you'll enjoy. If ninjas, mimes, student anarchists and shrew tachycardia make you giggle, then read on.

The tone of The Gone Away world can slightly frenetic, and it does feel a bit like spending time with a hyperactive and slightly pretentious teenager, but in the context of the post- and during apocalyptic world in question, this served to set the scene rather well. Harkaway is fond of descriptive passages that go off on tangents to the main story. I'm a biologist by training, so my inner nerd rejoiced at soliloquies on shrew tachycardia or the use of sheep in battle. I loved the narrator's descriptions of growing up in Cricklewood Cove, childish relationships and rumoured cannibal dogs, and Master Wu made me burn with the desire to take up Tai Chi; many details of the world drew me in and held me mesmerised. Others, such as the shrewdly observed student anarchists, made me snort. There were moments where The Gone Away World felt uncomfortably close to our own, and the weird mix of characters and humor revealed a lot more than I expected.

I can see how some of the descriptive writing could be described as froth, and is utterly tangential to the main story. However, the main story isn't why I read novels. As it stands, the apparently simple plot of The Gone Away World is revealed to be not so simple- delivering a whopping and highly original twist that I didn't see coming even when it had hit me over the head several times. This twist reveals the real cleverness of this novel- as suddenly whole structures and details are made clear.

The (over)use of italics jarred a bit, and cast an aura of pretension- there were times when it felt appropriate and times when it was overdone. At one point there was a mathematical reference that seemed designed to impress during a description of the narrator's fighting skills- a pity, then, that it was incorrect. All in all, however, Harkaway has created an enormous cast of extremely memorable characters and set them free to save the world with great enthusiasm, and a few exploding sheep.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily good first novel, 28 Jan 2010
By 
Mark Shackelford "mark shackelford" (Worthing, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Paperback)
Mixing a range of styles - from Joseph Heller's "Catch 22", through the wacky world of "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, to the attention to detail and plot complexity of "Cryptonomicon" by Neil Stephenson - this is a superb book.

A post apocalyptic vision of the Earth, with most of the planet contaminated by an Information Bomb that makes Matter "Gone Away", and populated by refugees from the "Mad Max" films - I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even the various flash backs into a kung fu childhood.

If you have enjoyed any of the above authors - give this a go.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a true original, 7 July 2008
By 
R. N. Fisher "Trybe" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Hardcover)
its not often a book just blows you away with the scope of its ideas and the ability of its writing, but this is that book. Do not sign up if you have ADD or lack the capacity to keep all the ideas being fired at you spinning all at once. Phillip K Dick Vonneguht Mieville William Gibson all are possible reference points but its the sheer verve of the characters and of the way he describes events that just carries you along. Great fun and your brain cells get a work out - what more do you want from a book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable epic, but no easy read, 27 Jun 2008
By 
R. WEST-SOLEY "Rich West-Soley" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Always a fan of post-apocalyptic plots, I wasn't disappointed by Harkaway's exploration of his particular ideas about a reconstructed, shattered world. An eclectic mix of shock and dark humour, and some engaging, expertly drawn characters mean that there is a lot to get your teeth into. The idea of the inevitable cycle of rise and fall is played out in an intriguing mish-mash of the war and sci-fi genres.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a holiday novel or a light read, then this probably isn't it - it's a book you have to approach with the same kind of heavyweight attitude that the writer injects into it with some very carefully crafted prose. And perhaps that is the book's sticking point - it's so carefully constructed along rather orthodox lines that at times it feels a little false. That said, if you have the patience with it, there are some fascinating tableaux to explore. Stick with it when it loses pace - there is light at the end of the tunnel, and your reward for pushing through is a very enjoyable end to the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not great. Sorry., 11 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Paperback)
I don't review often - but here I think I'm probably in disagreement with the majority of reviews that this book has had, including the great and good of the press (at least if the dust jacket copy is anything to go by) and so I wanted to lay down a cautionary marker for others who might be influenced by the very positive ratings.

This is a book based around a great idea (the Gone Away World), but the self consciously quirky writing ended up being a major problem for me. Words just gush over you, with throw-away quips and laborious set pieces. Endless verbage. Nothing is subtle or underwritten - everything takes three or four times more words than it needs. It's a bit like being stuck with a noisy drunk at a party who is trying to convince himself that he's having a good time by forcing you to agree that you too are having a good time - no, a great time - no, the best time ever. The humour, the enjoyment, wasn't earned - it was insisted on. Were there good bits? Absolutely - many of the ideas are fun, but the novel as a whole was a sprawling mess of different influences, not really pulled together into any sort of shape. I rarely if ever give up on a book - particularly once I've got a decent way into it. But with this book I managed a good two-thirds of the story, and then realised, as we approached some sort of climax, that I simply couldn't be bothered to keep reading - that the characters had no real credibility, that the writing was just oppressive, and that I wanted it all to end. It was very disappointing - and I'm not quite sure what others have seen in this.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unbelievably good, 14 Mar 2009
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Paperback)
a shockingly good book. Picked it up by accident, began reading it when i'd finished all my other books, and within half an hour I knew I wasn't going anywhere until i'd finished it. It follows no rules, neglects no genres and tackles all its plots with a startlingly modern humour. Funny, fascinating and seriously though-provoking. Please read it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good - but tried a little too hard, 26 May 2008
By 
Cee-Gee (Northants, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Overall, I liked this novel and would recommend it.

Harkaway can't be faulted for creating a new world forged from disaster, I couldn't put the book down when this world was being explored. The story was both fascinating and horrifying, and also very funny - I was laughing out loud at times. This could so easily have been my favourite novel from the last few years, it just fell a bit short.

I think this can be put down to the fact that this is Harkaway's first novel. It seems like he picked up a set of instructions for writing a novel and followed them religiously, from the hook at the start to the twist and the conclusion. The problem is that some of this was a bit tedious and forced. Some of the other reviewers stopped reading during the chapters that set out the history of the characters and essentially brought the reader up to speed. I agree that this section was unnecessarily long and at times boring when compared to the first chapter, but I say keep reading because the second half of the novel is much more enjoyable and engaging, earning the book 4 stars from me.

My only other complaint is that Harkaway either wrote this with his head in a thesaurus, or was determined to use just about every word in his extensive vocabularly. Either way it was pretty grating at times.

To sum up, read this novel - try to forgive the drawn out history section and get stuck into the story as it builds from then on - and hope that Harkaway won't try so hard in future because he could be an excellent fiction writer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider the world, unraveled, 18 Sep 2008
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Hardcover)
Imagine a future world where a chemical solution is the only thing that keeps us from the ghastly mutated barbarism of the Gone Away World.

Now imagine the wacky, quirky upbringing that led to such a future, and an absurdist autobiography filled with ninjas, cowardly revolutionaries, apocalyptic monsters and the Go Away Bomb. Nick Harkaway's "The Gone Away World" plants him firmly in the center of clever, forward-thinking fiction, as a sort of postapocalyptic Robertson Davies.

One night in the Nameless Bar, there's a blackout. Nothing new -- except the TV shows that the Pipe -- a vast network of hoses and lines that keeps the Livable Zone that way -- has caught fire.

Along with his pal Gonzo Lubitsch and a bunch of random bar weirdos, the narrator sets out to save the day. But this takes him back to his earlier life -- a strange childhood mentored by the quirky ancient martial-artist Master Wu, mutating into Angry-Young-Manhood complete with dissatisfaction and lots of sex. He's arrested as a revolutionary ringleader, and joins up with the cake-esque named Zaher Bey.

And then came the War that transformed the world into a place of monsters, darkness and utter weird. And in the present day, his road trip takes a sudden and bizarre turn when Gonzo shoots him. And as the narrator struggles to find what is going on at the heart of the mysterious Jorgamund Company, he learns of who has masterminded all the most horrific events of this twisted world...

Nick Harkaway is one of those rare authors who can capture the surreal in a single observation -- a woman's hair, a phone call, a big mean dog. So in a book with "shark things with legs," people melded with horses, and ninja assassins, one can expect that things are going to get pretty strange. And "The Gone Away World" explores how that strange world came to be.

Admittedly it starts off in a rather scatterbrained, manner in the first chapter, but levels out when it goes back to the narrator's shared history with Gonzo. But despite all the weirdness, Harkaway's writing has a curious, contemplative dignity that reminds me of Robertson Davies on crack ("may giant badgers pursue him for ever through the Bewildering Hell of Fire Ants, Soap Opera and Urethral Infections), but also has splatters of shocking vividity ("high towers and pale houses. The wind carries a murmur from its streets").

Seriously. Where else can you find a man proclaiming that he is "such a totally terrifying concentration of nerdhood" that he's "cracked the code for human social behavior using mathematics"? And it doesn't seem totally absurd?

And the Gone-Away world is the strangest place of all -- it's got ninjas, mutants, revolutionaries and mystery corporations that Just Have To Be Bad, all interlinked. But Harkaway doesn't neglect the poignancy inherent in a world that has been wrenched out of shape -- we get to see the sad, ruined creatures that have lost not only their human bodies but their minds as well.

The relationship between hero-stud Gonzo and the narrator is what really drives the novel onward, and there's absolutely nothing typical about their weird, slightly awkward friendship. Harkaway peppers the book with other oddities -- extremely mysterious women, odd bar-people, and the delightfully quirky little old martial-arts master who molded the narrator. Ah, Master Wu, we will not forget you soon.

"The Gone Away World" sounds like the title of a suburban-ennui tale, but it's actually the tame description of a wildly surreal postapocalyptic thriller, with plenty of unusual twists and deliciously odd characters.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Gone-Away World
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway (Paperback - 29 Jan 2009)
5.46
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews