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on 3 January 2014
I want to love this book. I want to rave. Indeed I was sending my friend messages initially quoting bits and saying how awesome it was. Yet ultimately, I've come away from a book that is kind of forgettable.

I love so many things: the concept of London changing and shifting. The description of things moving around. The 'Dark City' moments of the environment changing around them. Honey Peppers a foul mouthed 6 year old girl is awesome beyond words. The humour is at times laugh out loud. The manatees say no more.

But then it ultimately is bogged down by the 'story', believe it or not. Trying to create some narrative, but not sure what. Clearly at times it felt like some thinly veiled 'message' story about the evils of the City of London. But even then, not sure what the message is. The story dies out. There's no conclusion.

The characters are never the strong point. They are merely props in what is an interesting concept. I'd be fine with that. but then to rely on them at the end doesn't work. I don't care for a 'victory' or sudden 'romance'. There's just not enough basis for us to care. You've taken us on a fantasy story, you can't end with just "and everyone lived happily ever after". Characters just disappear with no resolution whatsoever.

It's neither this nor that. Are you an insane funny jolly, or a serious Orwellian nightmare? It grasps at both, and achieves neither.

I feel ultimately it's a wasted opportunity. So many great fragments in there, but nothing came to any satisfying end. I just want to keep saying: what about him, what about her, what about that travelling on trains stuff, what happened to the frog?

I would love to see this as a movie... if someone could clean it up, it could be an awesome tale.
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on 1 January 2014
The concept is what drew me but the execution of the plot and characters was for me, quite poor to the point I lost interest. The characters would more suit teen girls. The main character is weak and simply infeasible even in the context of the book. There is little if any hard action and I was lost as to the point of the main character. One or two parts are just plain silly but its the lack of pace, action, interesting characters and character interest that just spoils it. The secondary characters are better developed but really position it as female ten fiction. I think that group may like it but I didn't and doubt I'll read the authors work again
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on 12 January 2015
The tone of this urban fantasy is set when Captain James Wedderburn wakes in a bedroom that is a slightly different shape than it was when he went to sleep (but you have to expect that in what London has become) to the sound of munching and sees two glowing salamanders eating a green beetle the size of a dinner plate on his bedroom floor. The fact that his first thought is that they would be worth quite a lot if he can move quickly enough to catch them tells you a lot about the kind of London this has become. Captain Wedderburn is a a pimp, who swaggers his way through Dream London, trying to avoid various villains, including the mysterious Daddio and his strange emissary the foul mouthed six (and three quarters) Honey Peppers, and the fate they have in store for him, involving the manatees (or, more likely mandrills) in London Zoo, the machinations of the mysterious Cartel and Miss Elizabeth Baines who rescues cats and has been told he is her one true love. Further complications involve Mr Monagan, a man-sized orange frog, ants, various prophecies and the important of brass bands. And the problem of how to stop London changing beyond all possible recognistion.
I loved it.
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on 16 June 2015
Like many others, I suspect, I was drawn to the book by the strange concept of
a twisted London, and like the citizens themselves, constantly changing.

By the time I got to page 135 of this 347 page book, I decided to quit.
Whilst some interesting characters turned up now and again, the story kind of gets
lost in the constant small talk. The tale, promising so much, simply fails to
progress, whereupon I found myself looking for something else to do, rather than struggle
on with this disappointment.

A wasted chance here Mr Ballantyne.
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on 14 May 2014
A great read with a premise that doesn't get explained; just run with it. The 'message' in the story is a little transparent at times but, for me, stayed just the right side of heavy-handed. The clever and inventive world-building is never buried under those themes. Worth a read
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on 1 November 2013
Until fairly recently I hadn't realised that Tony Ballantyne was releasing a new novel. I'd read Twisted Metal a few years back on its release and very much enjoyed his depiction of a robot only society and its workings. I never did get around to the sequel, Blood and Iron, instead deciding to patiently await the completion of the Penrose trilogy before diving in further. However, due to a variety of personal factors the final novel was delayed, and news on his next novel - whatever it was - dried up. And then I saw the cover for Dream London, done by the unmistakable hand of Joey Hi-Fi - that in itself was enough to draw me in. And then I read the synopsis...

First off let me say that Dream London is one of those books that just gets hold of you and drags you into its world. There isn't any other way to describe it, and even that barely communicates just how involved you become once you start turning the pages and walking the streets of this - quite frankly - unique and wondrous city. Above all else, that's the one thing that has stuck with me after coming away from Dream London. Yes, the story, characters, and general weirdness of this novel all add up to make it one hell of a read, but it's the setting that is its greatest achievement.

Ballantyne makes many references to London's landmarks throughout the novel, but whether you know them or not hardly matters as they're far from normal in the streets of Dream London. Things are all over the show - and that's very much part of the charm. While initially this seems to be complete fantasy, there is a hint underneath it all to suggest that isn't quite the case. In fact, one of the characters says as much during the course of events, and it's these odd comments here and there that gives Dream London its depth, taking it from being a straight urban fantasy to something more.

Much like the geography employed in Dream London, the characters too are weird and wonderful. Jim 'James' Wedderburn is our main protagonist, and the person who we follow throughout. He's not so much a hero - or anti-hero - he just is who he is. While it's clear he's fleshed out when we first meet him, the nature of Dream London means that we just don't know quite whether he'll do what's expected - after all, Dream London changes people.The secondary characters are all well portrayed, fitting their roles nicely, with some - like the dandy, Alan - more memorable than others. Either way, the cast Ballantyne has on show really do work well together to bring the novel to life.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dream London, with the plot taking twists and turns in unexpected and strange ways. I often found my head hurting with all the changes and general weirdness that is abound within the pages, but by allowing myself to be carried along on the ride it all just worked. Dream London is a most refreshing and different novel, and one I heartily recommend.
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on 18 March 2016
well I read it. all of it. not so good. and then there is dream paris. if you disliked this, stay away from the next city. I gave it two stars but only because I read all of it.
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on 8 December 2014
I loved this book and have read it more than once. So richly imaginative, well written with a pacy plot. Highly recommended
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on 18 April 2015
Wow sums it up. A brilliant, original, unforgettable experience. Now all I need is another book from the same author.
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on 19 July 2015
Nice read if you are living on London
decent book, not a work of genius but good enough
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