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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sitting on the fence!
At two in the morning I read the final chapter of Surveillance... and like other reviewers was shocked at the end. But surely this is what we were meant to feel! It adds to the feeling of unease that the whole book engenders... and clever Mr Raban... if you're an optimist then imagine the characters you like surviving and the characters you don't like getting their...
Published on 16 May 2009 by bookworm

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip this one
I was influenced by the hyperbole on the cover and Raban's track record, but on reading this novel I found the story lacking and unresolved.

I'm a huge fan of alot of Raban's writing- 'Old Glory' and 'Coasting', and early fiction like 'Foreign Land'. Sadly though, this novel disappointed on every level.
Published on 3 Nov 2007 by Chris Pearson


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sitting on the fence!, 16 May 2009
This review is from: Surveillance: A Novel (Paperback)
At two in the morning I read the final chapter of Surveillance... and like other reviewers was shocked at the end. But surely this is what we were meant to feel! It adds to the feeling of unease that the whole book engenders... and clever Mr Raban... if you're an optimist then imagine the characters you like surviving and the characters you don't like getting their come-uppance. If you're not an optimist then drown the whole darn lot. If all the ends had been tied up for us, then I guess either the optimists or the pessimists would have been disappointed.
I still love Jonathan Raban
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrifically enjoyable novel, 17 Jan 2007
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This review is from: Surveillance (Hardcover)
It's perhaps asking for trouble to submit a sober-faced assessment of a book in which an Amazon reviewer appears as part of the plot. To cut a long story short, my only reason for sending these words down the ether is to tell you how damned good Surveillance is.

Among other delights, Surveillance offers a couple of pages of witty observations on the different styles of reviewers on amazon.co.uk versus those on amazon.com. These make you think, yes, here's a writer who's unashamedly plugged into the modern world.

I don't mean by this that Surveillance sets out to be trendy. Not at all - but Mr Raban is definitely a writer open to the experience of the new in a refreshingly fluid and open-minded sort of a way. There is an absence of dogma. Nothing is fusty.

In this novel Lucy Bengstrom makes for an engaging female protagonist - a freelance journalist in Seattle who picks up an assignment to interview the author of a memoir about experiences during and immediately after the Second World War. She then has to pick her way through a jumble of received wisdom, half-truths and distorted fictions in an effort to grasp the truth.

Surveillance has characters in common with Mr Raban's earlier Waxwings but you don't need to have read the earlier book to enjoy the new one. The broad theme of surveillance inspires anxiety and even neurosis, but I found this to be an optimistic and uplifting book.

In summary, Surveillance was one of my favourite couple of novels from 2006. Highly recommended (as, indeed, is Waxwings).
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4.0 out of 5 stars One chaper too few, 3 April 2008
By 
Martin A. Chambers (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surveillance: A Novel (Paperback)
I've read and enjoyed all of Jonathan Raban's books. He is excellent at putting words onto paper in such a way that you cannot fail to want to read them. Set in Seattle Surveillance is another example of a most engaging novel. On the surface it is an account of a journalist seeking out and interviewing a reclusive best selling author. At another level it describes the surveillance culture which had come about since the 9/11 attacks in the USA, and most disturbing it is too. In Surveillance you get to meet several engaging characters, and a couple of other who are rather less savoury.
If the book has a weakness it has to be the final chapter which in my view leaves too many ends undone. Nevertheless I would thoroughly recommend this book. An excellent reead.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip this one, 3 Nov 2007
By 
Chris Pearson - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Surveillance: A Novel (Paperback)
I was influenced by the hyperbole on the cover and Raban's track record, but on reading this novel I found the story lacking and unresolved.

I'm a huge fan of alot of Raban's writing- 'Old Glory' and 'Coasting', and early fiction like 'Foreign Land'. Sadly though, this novel disappointed on every level.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Surveillance, 1 Nov 2011
By 
Mr. A. Williams (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surveillance (Hardcover)
Living with a teenage daughter in Seattle has produced a seismic shift in Jonathan Raban's oeuvre; there is a ferry and some canoes but gone are the ships, descriptions of the sea and accounts of life aboard a small boat. We are given at times just a little too much information about the teenager's growing up process, black heads and bogeys. For me the book really got going when I could see the beginnings of a pattern emerging via Google, I expected a twist, an outcome, a fraud exposed, a false identity revealed but instead nature destroys the evidence. Having just read Foreign Land, Raban;s first book I realize just how good it is. This is not Raban at his best, I am simply not that interested in teenage girls and lonely actors; August Vanags and Lucy, yes fascinating but unresolved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book - don't read the other reviews - they will ruin your enjoyment., 27 Jan 2008
By 
Mrs. S. P. Theodosiou "SarahT" (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surveillance: A Novel (Paperback)
Another fantastic totally absorbing book from Raban, it follows on from Waxwings his previous book about Seattle. Some really spot on observations about America, especially in its post 9/11 paranoia.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good book that failed, 7 Nov 2007
By 
J. Fraser (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surveillance: A Novel (Paperback)
This is not a book I would normally read, but my wife bought me this and she has a habit of buying me great books I would never otherwise of looked at. It starts brilliantly, with the aftermath of a terrorist attack, which after a couple of pages turns out to be an civil defence exercise. Thus one of the main themes of the book is underlined; nothing is exactly what it seems. In an America in the grip of paranoia, a journalist attempts to find out if an author really lived through the events he described. Unknown to her, the landlord of her building is watching her while her friend digs into the past of the landlord to see if he has stolen a dead man's identity. A car park attendant is forced to spy on his colleagues while a young girl tries to understand the algebra behind human behaviour. All the time the State watches it's citizens. Everyone spies and everyone is spied on. The trouble is none of these plot lines is fully developed and while the book is short and well written, it just doesn't go anywhere.

And the end! The end of the book left me feeling cheated. None of the plot lines are resolved and it just finishes as if the author lost interest. I feel that the author should go back and rewrite what promised to be a great book, but turned out to be a damp squib.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars no plot resolution, 15 April 2009
By 
J. Cohen - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Surveillance: A Novel (Paperback)
being from seattle, i enjoyed this book and read it in 2 days. i could totally relate to tad's late night newsreading (but that's all). the charachter development was good and plot lines varied, but the build up did not justify the non ending. None of the story lines were resolved, and the earthquake ending did not merit a last chapter. the earthquake felt like a creative writing essay tacked on to the end of the story. Lee's character would have been an interesting wild card, but so many of the storylines were not played out. Other than Minna. What's up with that ? I felt as though only Minna's character had any kind of closure in this book. Overall the ending made me wish i had never got so engrossed in this book but hey it was only a 2 day read. and good company on the tube until the book petered out in the end. it was if the author lost interest in his own plot lines.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The book that even the author couldn't finish..., 1 Oct 2007
By 
JJS (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Surveillance: A Novel (Paperback)
I've never written a review before, but felt so cheated as I finished reading Surveillance that I was compelled to share my views.

Surveillance sells itself as a look at post-911 society and the paranoia that every move we make is scrutinised by the all-seeing government. This was obviously dreamt up by the publishers marketing department, attempting to cash in on that popular genre. The book itself is a big let down if you were hoping for something along those lines.

The worst thing is that just as the book is building to a climax, rather than resolving the various storylines, the author simply abruptly ends it. At first, I thought my copy had been misprinted without the final chapter. It's as though the author had been asked to turn in an x page manuscript, got to that and thought, "Oh, well, I'll pop that in the post and get my fee". I was left very irritated and annoyed that I'd bothered to spend my time reading it.

Mr Raban, please finish your book and let us know what happens to your characters...
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What Larry Said, 15 May 2012
This review is from: Surveillance: A Novel (Paperback)
'Don't get sucked in by the (numerous) positive quotes on the cover/back/inside of this book as I don't think any of the reviewers actually read the novel to the end (if you can call it an 'end').

When I came to the 'end' I thought that there must be (at least) one chapter missing from my copy, if not three or four, as the story is left completely unresolved on every level.

My advice to anyone thinking about buying this book is simple: don't bother.'

Could not have put it any better myself so have repeated here in case you missed it.
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Surveillance
Surveillance by Jonathan Raban (Hardcover - 15 Sep 2006)
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