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This review is from: The Gone-Away World (Paperback)
Reading The Gone-Away World is like being in a brainstorming session with creative thinkers from various cultures, and being bombarded with all of their ideas of what a post-apocalyptic thriller should read like all at once. It takes a while for these ideas to sink in, and not all of them work in the context of the other ideas, but all of them are interesting and creative. Whats more, when put together they create a bizarre, unhinged and untamed book. Harkaway brings you on a long journey, throwing a near apocalypse, war, ninjas, pigs being used as fuel, martial arts, mime artists and romance (amongst many other things) at you along the way. Often breaking off the narrative and going off on seemingly random tangents, The Gone-Away World is as strange as it is epic, though the greatest part about Harkaway's debut is that it is always vibrant and fascinating.
There isn't much else on the market that reads like it, and although his followup 'Angelmaker' is more focused it lacks (perhaps intentionally - a book like this would be difficult to top scale-wise) the huge ambition that this book does. Arguably this ambition is also what trips 'The Gone-Away World' up at times. Harkaway seems to have wanted to cover everything in one book, and touch upon as many genres as he can while he was at it! He introduces characters frequently, each more outlandish and fantastic than the last, and also twists so much out of the premise(s) that the book starts to veer out of control in the last couple of chapters. There is a major plot twist in the book that is reminiscent of another book that I've read, and the ending is a tad underwhelming for me, but apart from these gripes I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Gone-Away World'. I highly recommend it: it's sprawling, filled with very many subplots, multi-genred, a bit messy and a bit chaotic but never dull!