7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Promising yet frustrating debut,
This review is from: Gridlinked (Ian Cormac) (Paperback)
'Gridlinked' is a promising yet ultimately rather frustrating science fiction debut, in that Neal Asher introduces plenty of intriguing concepts here, but due to the slightly ham-fisted execution never really develops them to any satisfying degree. While the novel features some interesting cyberpunk technology and space opera-style alien worlds and creatures ultimately this turns out to be a fairly basic 'James Bond in space' thriller, with the emphasis on lengthy fight scenes, hard-bitten mercenaries and weapons tech. Most of Asher's characters are a fairly one-dimensional, and while we are given a story-reason for Bond-substitute hero Ian Cormac being utterly devoid of character (too many years spent 'gridlinked' to A.I.s) the novels initial arc of rehabilitating Cormac's humanity is never really followed through. The novel spends most of its length contrasting the exploits of Cormac with a villain seeking revenge, and while thematically this could have made a nice counterpoint in reality the villains motivation is unbelievable in the extreme and when they finally meet for the final showdown it's a bit of an anti-climax. Worst of all is the garbled ending, which frustratingly chooses to neglect to explain the novels climax to the reader (thankfully the author himself has published the cut final chapter on his own website).
Of course the novel has it's plus points too, and despite the clumsy writing Asher's universe is interesting enough that I intend to check out the following novels in the series, but this frankly has too many faults to read like anything other than a debut novel. Hopefully Asher's work improves over time, but taken alone this novel falls some distance short of similar work by the likes of Richard Morgan, Ian M Banks and co.