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3.9 out of 5 stars14
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 18 August 2006
This follows a familiar Grimwood pattern; two parallel stories, one cyberpunk-flavoured one set in the near-future and a harder science-fiction one set in the far future. Characters connect with both threads, and as always with this writer, it takes a while to figure out quite what's going on and how the two stories connect. Grimwood captures the flavour of street-level Tokyo beautifully and also the less glamourous and cyberpunk South London. There is the usual attention to detail with bands and cultural icons namechecked at appropriate moments. The story is fast paced and is somehow more accessible than one or two of his previous offerings. Some more familiar Grimwood themes are explored as the lead character works through issues of identity, guilt, and commitment. A great read!
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on 5 April 2008
This is my first experience of John Courtney Grimwood, and it is a positive one. His characters are well rounded, with a particularly good ear for dialogue. He's also keen on cross-genre writing - a concept as a writer I'm in favour of. When mixing genres it's important to maintain the integrity of the story underneath: the mix is nothing without a compelling narrative. End Of The World Blues succeeds, but in spite of this.

In End of The World Blues (henceforth known as EOTWB) we have two parallel stories - one set in modern day Japan and the other in a future version of what appears to be a dying Earth. While the story following Kit, an English bar owner in Tokyo, soon to have a number of live changing events is a conventional thriller, the parallel narrative following Neku, a princess living within a 'sentient' castle in the future, jarrs in its execution.

Yet apart from Neko and her appearance in Kit's life in modern day Japan, these parallel narratives keep a firm distance apart. Barring the odd tweak you could remove the science fiction mix from EOTWB without being any the worse off. The question is: why is it there? My problem with the sci-fi element is not that it's unwelcome, but that less attention has been furnished to the future world than with more conventional real world. Grimwood doesn't give the reader the time to relate to characters in the future earth - each one is weak, unmemorable and for the most part unlikeable, whereupon in the real world each character has depth and and human, modern day interest - that Grimwood has been unable - or unwilling - to translate to the future portion of the novel.

Grimwood is an engaging writer, sharp and witty, yet is subtle enough with his characterisations that cliches are avoided and surprises are unexpected. He puts me in mind of a less romantic Michael Marshall Smith, thin on hyperbole but generous with allowing his characters space. I will look forward to reading more of his work.
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VINE VOICEon 29 August 2007
A page turner from Grimwood, with his usual intertwined multi-layered story telling. The two connected stories are a present +20 minutes thriller and a dystopian far future "end of the world". The connection between the two is the schoolgirl Nijie who may or may not carry the memories of a power player from the far end of time.

I liked the conceit that the far future is linked to the near present via threads stronger than mere causality but I question the effectiveness of the dual stories, I found myself rather more intrigued by Nijie's near present story than Lady Neku's far future one and as such I wonder if this is really a Sci-Fi novel at all but more of a contemporary thriller with some Sci-Fi metaphor bolted on in parts.

As such this focus on only one half of the story makes the other rather less memorable to this reader and as such almost fragments the narrative into chunks of interesting thriller spaced by all too forgettable end of time padding.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 May 2010
I enoyed the story but overall I was dissatisfied with this book. I will try to be fair to it and help you decide whether you are like me or like those who did like it.

On the positive side, it is not a bad thriller. The bad guys are nasty (but stupid), the hero is tough and cynical (but with a heart), the police are machiavellian (but capable of being outsmarted), and the girls are cool. It is fast paced with plenty of action, suspense, sex, mystery and above all a pervading sense of decadence that affects everyone.

On the negative side, I very much agree with Ed F's review. The device of having two stories doesn't work well. The SF story (floating rope world) is interspersed in the main story at a rate of about one chapter every five. At best it felt like reading a separate story and at worst it was an irritating distraction. Some of its SF concepts are imaginative and fun, but are they justified? Anyone can think up a bunch of zany ideas such as slicing the moon into segments and having real sword fights in which the loser gets a new body. The question is whether these ideas are properly integrated into the story. In this case where they take place in separate chapters in a separate world far in the future, is the connection between the two stories convincing, is it an essential part of the book? Or is the extra story just a bit of titillation added on to spice it up, with a few contrived links to the main world? Could the main story have been written as a standalone novel?

You might reply, in that case wouldn't the parallels and interactions between the lives of the people in the two worlds have been lost? I am not convinced. Quite frankly, there weren't many of them, and they weren't fully explored.

I also found the writing style irritating. I actually read a couple of pages in the shop before buying the book so I feel ashamed that I didn't spot it more quickly. Many of the characters are criminals or down-and-outs and naturally they speak in a slangy manner that is sometimes cool, sometimes tough. I felt the writer was trying to adopt the same style himself too much, for example by throwing in unnecessary obscene words and ungrammatical sentences.

Both of the criticisms I have made are things I probably wouldn't have minded when I was in my teens and may have positively liked. This gives me the feeling it is directed at teenagers. Whatever your age, if you don't care about whether the dual story passes my test, if you like imaginative SF and a hero who screws women as casually as he eats a sandwich, it's probably worth giving this book a try.
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Kit is a burnt out ex-soldier running a bar in a sleazy part of Tokyo. He is mixed up in the business of the Yakuza in Japan through the husband of his lover, and with British gangsters through the mother of his ex-girlfriend.

Lady Neku is an aristocrat from the far future facing an arranged marriage who may or may not also inhabit the body of a runaway schoolgirl in Kit's Tokyo

Good points first. The book is excellently written, the characters are fully rounded, believable, and in their own way endearing. Also the descriptions of Tokyo and London are beautifully evocative.

The two authors this brought to mind were William Gibson and Murukami. While this book is not in the same class as the Sprawl series, it is certainly the equal of Gibson's later work, and in being more grounded in reality and less flashy, could even be preferable. It is the surrealism of Lady Neku that gives echoes of Murukami, although given the choice, I would go for Grimwood, he doesn't have Murukami's laziness in just throwing ideas out without trying to provide any explanation.

On the downside, the story of Lady Neku's future world feels just tacked on, in fact this book may have been better as an evocative near future thriller, without the need for the stuff in the far future.

So, in summary, not perfect, but definitely worth trying as a piece of intelligent, thought provoking fiction.
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on 10 December 2007
I had only previously read 9 Tail Fox from Grimwood, but I loved that... and I love this! As with 9 Tail Fox, it's a fairly open ended story leaving the reader to decide which way they believe the story is resolved.

The whole book is very well written, the pieces of humour are witty and sharp and the action is well paced. The characters are all interesting and the way he leaves you wanting more is obviously a good thing.

The setting for the story, a near future Tokyo and London, are equally interesting and appealing. The near dystopian outlook is akin to the Blade Runners of this world and I much prefer this kind of setting to the utopian outlook of other writers.

Overall, the two threads of the book wrap around each other well enough and the ending is so wide open to interpretation that it leaves you wishing it would carry on for another hundred pages. Excellent book.
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on 27 June 2008
Having previously read 9Tail Fox, I picked up this title without knowing anything about it, I think thats why I enjoyed it a little more than most. The sudden jump into story, the complex rules of the fantasy land, the imagination and awful character names made this and entertaining and unique read.
As I said, this book took me quite by surprise, while it was not difficult to stop reading I always returned to this wanting to know more.
Another good title from Mr. Grimmwood :)
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on 14 August 2008
Jon Courtenay Grimwood's "End of the World Blues" is a stylish, often convoluted, post-cyberpunk thriller which will easily remind readers of William Gibson's early "Cyberspace" trilogy. However, Grimwood's depiction of a near future Japan owes more to Haruki Murakami's vision of Japan than Gibson's in its realism (which isn't surprising since Grimwood has, unlike Gibson, resided there). Young British expatriate Kit Noveau must contend with the unexpected demise of his wife and of the bar that she had owned. His only chance at redemption lies in an ex-girlfriend who left a suicide note before vanishing. His only friend is a rather bizarre young Japanese girl, Neku, who believes that she is an aristocrat from Earth's distant future. Together they travel through the urban jungles of Japan and Great Britain in search of the missing keys that will explain who was ultimately responsible for the death of Kit's Japanese wife. Without question, Grimwood is one of Great Britain's best young writers of literary science fiction and fantasy; "End of the World Blues" merely reinforces the ample critical and popular acclaim he's earned on both sides of the Atlantic.
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on 11 September 2010
The main characters are likeable and believable, quirky and strange but
Nijie reads like a manga character and Kit like a character from a detective
story but they come together well. The supporting cast don't get a lot of detail
but what there is is well written.

The plot is ok, there are a few twists and turns.
The pace is good with everything moving quickly from conflict to conflict.

The problem is that the sci-fi and non-sci-fi parts of the story don't meet very
well, the point where they are joined is to tenuous and that leaves the book
feeling like two separate stories that have been thrown together for no real
reason. This gives the book a slightly dead and almost academic feel.

An ok read but not great.
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on 22 July 2010
Used the free delivey and still got it in two days. As Usual Grimwood has excelled himself, talking cats, multidimentional time travel and warring Yakusa. Awesome.
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