Most helpful critical review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dull at first, picks up later, satisfying ending.
on 27 February 1999
I'm normally a pretty fast reader, and I like Bear - even his big books rarely take more than a couple of days to get through, despite work commitments. So why did this one take me more than a week?
For the first 200 pages or so, I had to keep putting it down. Bear has evidently thought a lot about his future world, where "therapy" using (I think) a combination of psychological techniques & nanotechnology has managed to cure many ills, making many of the world's citizens happier & more productive. And he wants to show us this. Now, though the characters and their actions are all crucial to the plot, it initially seems as if he is using them to show us how this world works. Unfortunately, he spends too much time doing so. Eventually, the plot does pick up: the people who have benefitted from therapy are falling ill again, often worse than they were before, at an accelerating rate - eventually, there will be so many mentally disordered and emotionally dysfunctional people that society will fall apart. And no one knows why this is happening. Meanwhile, a gang of grave-robbers are preparing to break into a high-tech tomb for people who want to use cryonics to live forever.... These two threads turn out to be intimately connected - and they do lead ultimately to a satisfying conclusion.
I really would like to be able to give this book 4 crowns: But it does go on too long at first. Also, it's written in the present tense, which I'm not a great fan of - though some feel this gives a book a greater sense of immediacy, to me it just seems overly literary.
So, it's not the best Bear, but worth reading if you have nothing else to hand, and does give some food for thought.