Customer Review

47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exploring climate change through the lens of human nature, 17 Jan 2011
This review is from: Solar (Paperback)
Solar tells the story of Michael Beard, an overweight and aging physicist who won the Nobel prize twenty years ago and hasn't had an interesting idea since. He plays on his fame and drifts between speaking engagements and sinecures, his private life is a disastrous series of failed marriages.

That all changes when a freak accident leaves him in possession of a file full of brilliant ideas from a young post-grad, and claiming the work as his own, Beard sets out to build a new technology that will single-handedly solve the world's energy crisis and stop climate change.

I won't spoil it for you by saying any more about the story - not that there is much of a story. Like the protagonist, Solar sort of bumbles along, following Beard to the Arctic and back, to conferences, lectures, bored nights in motel rooms, until it suddenly picks up at the end as Beard's various mistakes all suddenly begin to catch up with him all at once.

Michael Beard is such a thoroughly unlikeable character that I nearly gave up halfway through, but there are enough flashes of humour or interesting observations about human nature to make it worth persevering. It's not a great book - the reviewers panning it here have a point. Much of the book is mundane, well written but rather empty and moping. Nothing of any real interest happens until a good third of the way in, and the ending is somewhat contrived. Nevertheless, it's a satire and McEwan is attempting something rather bold - exploring climate change through the lens of human nature. Read that way, I think McEwan pulls it off, although I do wonder what his established fans will make of it.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Sep 2012 12:18:23 BDT
kathycull says:
Agree totally with everything said here. I struggled through it.

Posted on 3 Oct 2012 17:41:57 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Oct 2012 17:42:31 BDT
P. Leahy says:
I am only three quarter ways though the book. McEwan writes well but I have found the book tough going. I dont find the character particularly repellant - though I found it difficult to understand his decision to (plot point here) to frame another person for murder. The book does wander a bit - lot of pages in third part about his parents and childhood to which one might say so what.

Basically I would not recommend this book - but might look at his other work in future
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