Customer Reviews


78 Reviews
5 star:
 (57)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning.
I'm not naturally a person that leaps easily to high praise or acclaim of a work of art, unless it is something special.
And this is more than that. This is in my mind one of the most understated and important novels of the last 15 years.
I also hate the usual cliches reviewers use when discussing a great book; "unputdownable" and " a real page turner" spring to...
Published on 8 Sep 2005 by Sam

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really my thing
Well written, imaginative and entertaining. Not a waste of my time or money but possibly too dark for me. Have read another by the author just to make sure.
Published 2 months ago by buyerbeware


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning., 8 Sep 2005
By 
Sam (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
I'm not naturally a person that leaps easily to high praise or acclaim of a work of art, unless it is something special.
And this is more than that. This is in my mind one of the most understated and important novels of the last 15 years.
I also hate the usual cliches reviewers use when discussing a great book; "unputdownable" and " a real page turner" spring to mind. Yet this is a book where these cliches totally apply. As others have said, I lost sleep and missed a whole day of college to read this book. It was simply that fantastic, and I've never before or since been so entralled and captivated by a book.
Stark is a fantastic character and MMS is a master of the first person narrative. This book is also intensely funny, (you will laugh out loud), violent, beautiful, revalational, upsetting, and truely horrific. The ideas presented are phenomenal - mind boggolingly brilliant.
To describe this as Sci-fi is completely missing the point. The book is a hybrid of genres carefully woven into one another, encompassing, to name a few, elements of the Gothic, fantastical, satiric and horror traditions.
The writing is superb. Any criticism of clumsiness is misfounded. If it is ever clumsy, it is intentional to portraying Stark's human character. Re-read this and you will realise the writing is carefully crafted and beautifully sublime.
Plus, all the appliances talk! In one of the early chapters an elevator is said to be being treated by a "SWAT team of hydrolic psychotherapists" for "insinuating damaging things about the sexual proclivities of the building's interior designers..."!!
Absolute genius.
All I have to say is read this book. It will honestly immerse and affect you like no book has before!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A freind to read and re-read., 23 Aug 2002
By 
DiBosco "RJW" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
Michael Marshall Smith is a British author to treasure; a unique writer who combines humour with science fiction and - in this novel - pure adventure.
Comparisons with other authors are both trite and unecessary; no-one writes like Smith who started his creative career at Cambridge footlights, then writing for magazines and writing short stories before embarking on this incredible book. A story that draws you in and in turn provides humour, adventure, violence, love and freindship, dreams, zany futuristic talking machines (which leads back to humour) and cats. Cats are an important part of Smith's life and the sharply portrayed cat, Spangle, in this novel is the cat he wishes he had when he wrote the book.
The book bristles with imaginitive ideas about a future where the country is divided up into neighbourhoods where you go to live the lifestyle you want. A neighbourhood where no sound is allowed apart from one part of the day when everyone can scream their heads off; one where everyone is very busy and has to spend all their energy getting-things-done; one where violence reigns; one where colours are wild, vivid and the environment changes to reflect mood and clothing; one that is for cats.
It's a world that demands to be revisited. Once is not enough for this book. Do you yourself a favour, read this incredible adventure.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, sharp with a kind of smack in the teeth gritty humour, 26 Jun 2000
By 
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
This was my first MMS novel and convinced me to read everything he has written to date. The dialogue is quick and sharp, the characters gritty and well-relaised, the edginess apparent, but still unexpected when it grows and turns on you. Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrells, meets BladeRunner. I have not seen this stle in his other works, but this you BUY.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Look Back, 21 Feb 2014
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
"Hu is where you go to worship the devil properly without being bothered by sane people. Hu is the very end of the line. If you're in Hu you're either dead, about to be dead, or squatting in a dark abandoned building, chewing on the bodies."

Only Forward is primarily about a private eye in the future who has to find someone who might-or-might-not-have been kidnapped by a group of psychotic renegades. It's a futuristic world in which everybody lives in their own set community, depending on their personality. People who like colours, for instance, live in "Colour"; people who like beer, live with alcoholics; people who like to kill, usually end up in Red. And this futuristic landscape plays an integral part in the novel. But you don't find that out until later.

Which is one of my main problems with the story: the novel heads in one direction for a good third of the book, then suddenly veers into something completely different, almost negating everything before. Almost as if the author suddenly came up with a great idea and tried to segue into it. Or maybe he started this novel, didn't know how to finish it, then came back at a later date with a new angle. Either way, I was experiencing one thing--this humorous PI novel--and then it switched into a more sinister deep darker novel, with horror coming to the forefront, which, although interesting and gripping, was slightly out of left field. There's even a one-page epilogue at the end that wraps up every mystery from the first hundred pages or so in a couple paragraphs.

In its defence, the narrator DOES make a big deal about life not forming into a structure, that life goes left, then right, then left, and doesn't always swing back around to the direction you want, as if the author was trying to convince me from the beginning that if anything random happens that's because life is random in general.

Apart from that, the main character and the supporting characters are all written well, the dialogue is solid, and the actual real storyline once you get to it, and once it's all explained at the end, is really interesting--to me, at least. It doesn't end with a big shoot out, but it's more of an emotional end. There's a great backstory too, and it made the novel feel so much more authentic, showing these true human emotions amongst all the futuristic alternate realities.

Anyway, this book might not be for everyone and it's a little slower than some of his others, so if you're not a fan of his yet, or you're not sure about taking the jump, start with The Straw Men.

Otherwise, read this, and prepare yourself for the switch up halfway through.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't look back, 15 Jan 2005
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
A brilliant book. It starts out as a wiseguy version of Blade Runner, with the hero asked to track down a missing 'Actioner'. The first third of the book takes us through the various neighbourhoods of The City, each with its own peculiar rules and regulations.
The second part takes place in Jeamland, an otherworldly dimension where nothing is as it seems.
The big kick from MMS' writing is that it proceeds in one direction, then suckerpunches you by metamorphosing into something else entirely - by the time you get to the third and final part what you're left with is a sad exploration of love lost and found.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, elegiac and moving, 19 Oct 2007
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
Only Forward tells the story of Stark, all round nice guy and problem-solver extraordinaire. Stark is asked to locate a missing Actioneer, apparently kidnapped from the Action Centre, home to the sort of dynamic go-getters who'd think of a lifetimes indenture to McKinsey as a shortcut to heaven. Stark's mission takes him to Colour (where the dress code is time-dependent and rigorously enforced), Red (bring your CRUNT launcher), Stable, Turn, Fnaph, and many other of the eccentric Neighbourhoods making up his fractured home city.

Smith's language is superb, moving from witty dialogue to compelling descriptions of the increasingly disturbed landscape of the city and its dismal seashore `to muted colours and grey pebbles endlessly made cold by the ebb and flow of heavy water ... the place where it was most clearly dead because it was still there ...' Stark's life is beautifully and obliquely revealed as the book progresses.

Only Forward is by turns funny, exciting, thoughtful and, towards the end, sad and ironic. It is one of my favourite books, and I highly recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just gets better and better. And better. And better..., 22 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
I discovered Michael Marshall Smith a few years back and i have been singing his praise from the first few pages of this book. The reason i'm writing this review is to tell you that this book endures the test of time. I have trouble re-reading books, generally because i remember the plot so vividly. But this book has been read again, and again and again. Don't get me wrong, i'm not saying that the plot is easily forgotten, far from it, the plot is original and genuinely enthralling. It's just that i tend to get so lost in the rich narrative and the poignant moments that i simply do not care that i know what is about to happen. Rarely has a book moved me to tears, made me laugh and made me think, all in the same sentence.
The main character, Stark, is a wonder of creation. For once, here is a hero we can believe, a man with faults and a past, a man who will admit that he is not perfect, but has this amazing quality about him: you actually want to meet him! Smith has done such a great job of creating his characters that you honestly can associate with Stark and all the other gritty, realistic and beautiful little freaks that haunt his world.
If you need your sleep, DO NOT GET THIS BOOK. Because i assure you, if you start the book, you will not put it down and if you have to put it down you'll be thinking of ways to get back to it. It really is just that good.
I'd like to go into the plot in more depth but unfortunately it would be unfair. Too much to give away, too many secrets that i'm sure Stark would rather tell you yourself. Buy the book, get to know Stark and have fun. Then read it a second time and fall in love all over again.
And if you're wondering, yes the other books are just as good. Michael Marshall Smith is one of the best authors we have today. A gifted, imaginative and above all, entertaining writer who will surely bring mush happiness and many sleepless nights to many more people. All i can say is, roll on 'Straw Men'!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cinematic journey, 16 July 2003
By 
Ray Blake (Hemel Hempstead, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
Only Forward is a treat for lover of good cinema. It's as though the Phillip Marlowe-style narrator of Blade Runner held your hand through a speeded-up showing of Donnie Darko and the film that The Beach should have been.
There are so many scenes in the book which cry out for filming: Stark on the beach, turning slowly against a camera pan to view the grey plain of Jeamland instead of the ocean; the rooftop rescue from Stable through a hail of weapon fire (and, yes, it's a hail that - unusually - is flying upward!); the flashbacks at the end ironically revealing the significance of the title.
Another review claims the juxtaposition of styles is uncomfortable and if I had to describe Only Forward in a single adjective, "uncomfortable" would be a great choice. But it's a discomfort to celebrate, a quite exquisite jumpiness from the awareness that this narrative really could go anywhere; will the next paragraph make you laugh, make you cry, make your heart quicken with excitement or your stomach sink in shock? The only certainty is that the next paragraph will make you think and - likely as not - make you want to read it out to your partner there and then.
It's the first MMS book I've read, and I bought it based on Amazon reviews. I finished it last night and just came on the site to order the rest of his books, but couldn't come here without saying thank you to the people whose glowing reviews brought me here last time. Thanks, people. You were absolutely right.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb - amusing, readable & great fun, 7 Dec 1999
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
No question - this is thoroughly enjoyable book. Exciting, witty, and a great read.
I'd compare it to Snowcrash in terms of the excitement of a new novel by someone I'd not read before, and being blown-away by it. Maybe not quite as thought-provoking as Snowcrash, but every bit as fun to read & exciting.
It's stretching it to call it 'literature', but this is a thoroughly enjoyable page-turner that deserves more attention than the average plane flight.
This guy is going to be big !
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly superb!, 16 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Only Forward (Paperback)
When the end was neigh I was in search for another Michael Marshall Smith book! The story is truly original and I read the book in a stupor - how can someone have such an imagination, such a train of thought and discipline. Stark was a character that I ended up having a crush on and wished I could meet up with. The book was a rollercoast of sad, funny, shocking, poignant and Smith deals superbly with the human emotions. Basically, let me not tell you about the book as its as simple as this -purchase it now, you will not regret it. The only problem is hoping all is other work meets up to the brilliance of Only Forward!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only Forward
Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith (Hardcover - July 2002)
Used & New from: 127.28
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews