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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite The Crow Road, but....
I must say I was a little shocked by some of the negative reviews of this novel because I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. I'm a long-time Banks reader and, though I don't much like his SF, his literary fiction always gives me something to think about.

True, it's not as good as some of his earlier novels, but I found myself liking the protagonist, Alban, very...
Published on 24 Mar. 2007 by Mike Fazey

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is the subtext a bit too heavy-handed? Discuss...
I've read more than half of Iain Banks's regular novels (as opposed to Iain M Banks's science fiction work) and although I enjoyed this book, I would have to say that the story would be a little bit leaden if it weren't for the author's well-crafted plotting. Which is to say that it's an unexciting story told with the skill of a page-turner.

The central...
Published on 22 July 2007 by Amazon Customer


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive, but there are limits., 11 April 2011
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This review is from: The Steep Approach To Garbadale (Hardcover)
I love Banks's voice, but how lazy he is nowadays.

This book is a bit of a wasted opportunity. When it starts, you think: ooh good, an aga saga like The Crow Road (to which the blurb compares it). And indeed there's a story in there which is a rich and enjoyable read.

But there's nothing new. You know Banks doesn't like the US, you know he's a socialist with a hardon for wealth and power, you know he adores his beloved homeland Scotland and you know he's kinky for redheads. And that's what you get in this delightful tale - more of the same.

There are plenty of loose ends which would have been worth exploring, and several dramas which didn't happen but you thought were telegraphed - and the ending that you *really* expected was *not quite* what you expected and in fact was *not as strong an ending* as it could have been. (Spoiler: it was Blake not James.)

But the scenery is lush and the company is interesting, so the journey itself is not wasted. It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive, and in fact you sort of wish the journey would go on a lot longer than it did.

But what the hell. I'd rather he wrote than didn't, but it would be better if he were to take longer to write one of these things and *really* craft it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Crow Road Light?, 8 Oct. 2007
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This review is from: The Steep Approach To Garbadale (Hardcover)
Oh dear! Seems to be one of the fillers that come out periodically (The Business, Dead Air anyone?). Still streets ahead of most other auhtors right enough, but sadly not one of his best. Thin both in length and depth. Yet another disfunctional extended (and rich) family. Basically a lighter version of the fantastic Crow Road. Even the obligatory twist isn't that much of a surprise....

Oh well, still an entertaining enough read, but not classic Banks by any means. Can't wait for Matter mind you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Intensely disappointing, 7 May 2011
I've enjoyed a lot of Iain Banks' novels in the past, both science fiction and real-world, but this, the most recent I have read, was intensely disappointing. The characters are quite flat and lifeless, their conversation a mish-mash of throwaway gags, random thoughts that fail to enlighten or connect to the rest of the story, and Banks' own intruding political views. The absolute lowlights include a ream of pop-culture references (clouds blandly remind a character of the opening titles of The Simpsons, while every beer, car, and consumer gadget gets brand-name-checked until you feel you're stuck inside an Argos catalogue), a pointlessly experimental "outsider" narrator who is barely tangentially involved in the plot (and uses intentionally bad grammar), and a list of about 20 bands in a row who come up on a character's car radio, as if this tells us anything except that the author likes those bands. Has Banks decided that crassly aping Irvine Welsh is the best course of action? Perhaps financially, but in no other way. It's a real pity because most of his previous books were thought-provoking and gripping.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iain Banks back on familiar ground. Board games, familial strife, wealth, low-life, and £1000/spoon honey all set in Scotland, 25 July 2014
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I have read all of Iain Banks books, and this book the Steep Approach to Garbadale returns to some of his favourite themes, board games, excessive wealth, and scotland.

The hero of this story is Alban who was born into wealth as part of the Wopuld clan, but has turned his back on a world he felt where he never belonged due to his mother's suicide.

I won't say much about this story. I really liked the main character Alban and his low-life lifestyle drinking cheap bear and eating chips in a glasgow high-rise, but I also liked the way he moved seamlessly back into the other world of chauffeured cars, grand luxury stately homes, and £1000/ spoon honey. I also like the Game Empire, on which the family's wealth is built.

I know it all sounds a bit silly, but the book is very entertaining, and a lovely journey into someone else's rather fantastical life. This book grabbed me from the start and kept me reading.Lots of interesting international backdrops, wonderful family feuding and a fortune to play for. I certainly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a lot actually happens but it's still a great read!, 3 Nov. 2010
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I love this book, but I'm finding it hard to explain why! It's certainly not as shocking or thought provoking as some of Banks' earlier novels and a couple of bits in it really annoyed me when I felt the author was one-sidedly voicing his own political opinion through his characters rant.

Despite these minor criticisms I found it really warm, good humoured and well written and the characters very likeable; I would say of his previous novels the style reminded me most of Espedair Street. It was also incredibly easy to read and I reread it almost immediately. The conclusion was satisfactory but not exactly mind blowing and I'd half predicted it very early in the book (only half, I was actually anticipating something much more shocking!) but I really didn't mind as it had been a pleasure to read and it's not the kind of novel that hangs on the shock final revelation a la Wasp Factory.

If you approach it with no expectations or preconceptions of what you're expecting from an Ian Banks novel then it is a good, enjoyable read and highly recommended!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Going Through the Motions, 13 Oct. 2008
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Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
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Like many other reviewers here, I would have to say that this is not one of Banks' best efforts. We've been here before with The Crow Road - and surely there is only so much mileage to be had about tales of eccentric Scottish families with dark secrets - which is what we get again here.

At times, Banks seems to be trying almost too hard - to re-capture the spirit of youth, to make eccentric people seem funny, to make the business shenangins of a family interesting, to make young love work when the people involved are older. Sadly, it's all a bit of mess, and although the writing is always pretty good, the story clunks along and the characters - frankly - grate after a while.

Ignore the hype on the cover about this being one of Banks's best books for ages. It isn't - and a trawl through his back catalogue will reveal just how much of an also-ran this latest effort really is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Middle of the Road on the Steep Approach..., 12 Aug. 2008
Displays the range of Banks' skills - well-plotted, dialogue heavy, recurrent themes of familial taboo and the odd dose of authorial politics intruding on the fiction. Certainly held my attention and demanded to be finished (in a good way). But, ultimately, there is nothing breath-taking about The Steep Approach to Garbadale, and the analogies, metaphors and revelations all feel fairly shallow.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but should have been better., 22 April 2007
This review is from: The Steep Approach To Garbadale (Hardcover)
This is Banks return to writing after his self- imposed break and sadly it shows. It is good, worth a read, though if new to Banks I wouldn't start here, Crow Road is so much better. This book reminds me of a re-hashed Crow Road, as though Banks ran out of ideas so played around with Crow Road's plot and characters. Alban, the main character is great but with a little more effort could have been a total star. His speech at the Garbadale EGM is nothing more than a vessel for Banks' own anti-American ravings and Alban's character till that point led me to expect something more intelligent. That is the problem, Alban's blossoming character is ultimately submerged beneath Bank's own musings on life, universe etc. The revelation of Alban's identity is fairly obvious, in fact nothing in this book came as a real surprise and that is criminal for fiction. The book does end rather too suddenly (reminded me of the strange, sudden end to Patricia Cornwell's Blow Fly, the impression is of the writer becoming fed up with the writing and just wanting to finish!). It would have been so much better to hear the family reaction to Blake's demise and to witness the reunion of Alban and Verushka who, as one of the better characters, I really wanted to read of again. Almost unforgiveable is that some of the most brilliant characters, Tango and company, are so peripheral and are yet given some of the best scenes and dialogue in the book. It is obvious that Banks story telling skills are still there but this books gives the impression of still being a work in progess and with some decent editing and character development could have been brilliant. The tragic suicide at the heart of the story is a wonderfully written few pages and the author's humour is still hilarious and had me laughing but ultimately the book was something of a let down, still worth a read though. I believe his next book is a Culture novel called Matter, here's hoping that one's better.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really tried to like it, but..., 11 Feb. 2009
As the strangely dull lovechild of The Crow Road and The Business, this book does little for me. Having now read it three times I still don't like it enough but at least feel that I've given it every reasonable chance so can write a review.

Banks seems to be dipping too deep into his parts bin. We'll have the forbidden childhood love from The Crow Road and Broken Glass, disjointed families from TCR, deep dark secrets from TCR, corporate shenanigans from the Business, some religio-political posturing from Dead Air (I think he does this much better when he's being subtle through the Culture). There's actually a decent story, some entertaining set pieces and characters, but by his standards it feels really formulaic and uninspired.

At times the quality of the writing is superb, but some scenes are disjointed. Several scenes report perceptions from too many viewpoints; this may be a deliberate trick to create an unsettling effect but I found it to be more annoying than anything. There is even one scene which starts in the first person then switches to the third, but leaves no character to have been that first person.

I remember a review from a previous book along the lines of "Banks' technical ability has now caught up with his imagination". This book feels like the balance has swung too far the other way. Phenomenal craftsmanship, but no inspiration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but not his best, 21 Aug. 2012
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As other reviewers have written, this book contains a little too much of Mr. Banks' own opinions, stated perhaps a little too forcefully. This is slightly off-putting, whether you agree with them or not, although there are some wonderful turns of phrase that allow him to get away with it.

I like IB's writing in general, although I've never quite got into the SF books written as IMB. Compared to the others, this is good, but not great. The different plot lines are woven together nicely, and the characters are - in general - interesting and compelling.

Well worth reading, though I wouldn't take it as your first Iain Banks book (also stay away from the Wasp Factory until you've read a couple of his others ... that has been known to put people off).
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The Steep Approach To Garbadale
The Steep Approach To Garbadale by Iain Banks (Hardcover - 1 Mar. 2007)
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