- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: HarperVoyager (8 July 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007327951
- ISBN-13: 978-0007327959
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 575,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town Paperback – 8 Jul 2010
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Praise for SOMEONE COMES TO TOWN, SOMEONE LEAVES TOWN:
‘A glorious book, but there are hundreds of those. It is more. It is a glorious book unlike any book you’ve ever read.’ Gene Wolf
‘Fresh and unconventional … Doctorow demonstrates how memorably the outrageous and everyday can coexist’ Publishers Weekly
Praise for Cory Doctorow:
‘Fresh and full of thought-provoking ideas, a book about tomorrow that demands to be read now.’ The Times
‘I’d recommend ‘Little Brother’ over pretty much any book I’ve read this year. Because I think it’ll change lives. It’s a wonderful, important book’ Neil Gaiman
‘A cracking read’ Guardian
About the Author
Canadian-born Cory Doctorow is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Little Brother. He has won the Locus Award for his fiction three times, been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula, and is the only author to have won both the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Campbell Award for best SF Novel of the Year. He is the co-editor of BoingBoing.net, writes columns for Make, Information Week, the Guardian online and Locus and has been named one of the internet's top 25 influencers by Forbes magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Cory Doctorow lives in London with his wife and daughter.
Top customer reviews
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One of the most original things I have read in a long time, and it gets 5 stars for that alone. The writing is fairly consistent, and to a good standard, although I do agree that some of the main characters lack detail. It's a quick read, and I enjoyed it more for its originality than for any sense of epic, thrill or adventure. I would (and do) recommend this to any SF/Fantasy reader who feels bored or jaded by a supposedly avante-garde genre that has failed to innovate for a very long time.
On the one hand, it is a wonderfully written and unapologetically strange tale that was reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's writing at times. On the other, it was a book that pushes the personal agenda of the author in regards to his views on technology and freedom of information. It simultaneously pushes a number of different stories with various tones in many directions, and these stories never seem to blend together nicely but instead clash against each other.
In essence, this is the story of a supernatural man who has managed to live to middle age but is still struggling to not only find his place in the world but also understand exactly who and what he is. He has done this by jumping from business to business, making speedy friendships with different people so that he can analyse them and see what makes them tick.
This is a genuinely interesting premise that led to some wonderful moments in this book. I love that his father is an island and his mother a washing machine. I loved that his brothers were a fortune teller, an island, a group of Russian nesting dolls, and a psychopath. I even liked that because of how they grew up without human interaction, their names were interchangeable. Other than the first letter of their name, they often called each other and referred to themselves by a different name every time. These were wonderfully strange flavours that gave the story its soul.
However, that alone is enough to keep track and make sense of. Throw into that a story told on a broken timeline and things start to get a little stranger. Split that broken timeline up between three different stories being told simultaneously and then insert random snippets of a story that the protagonist is writing in his head, and you start every new chapter/section in a state of confusion. It made the story seem bitty and hard to follow. I listened to this as an audiobook, so maybe it is better when reading it yourself, but I find that a broken timeline only works so long as the reader is instantly aware of which timeline the current story belongs to.
Add on top of all this strangeness a subplot about his brothers going missing, a girl who is dealing with the issues that come with having wings, and a storyline about trying to give free internet access to the world, and you suddenly have a lot going on in a very small amount of space. I'm afraid to say that maybe it was a little too much at times.
I hate having to say that because I love these weird and quirky books. They are original and so different to other books out there that they instantly make me smile and keep me engaged. I so want them to succeed but this time, I didn't quite get there.
I suppose really I have two main flaws that are the reasons for the loss of the stars in this review:
1 - There's too much going on at once and it is all jumbled up. Broken timelines, impossible creatures, strange situations, magic and technology, characters with interchangeable names; these are all issues that can work in novels. However, to use all of them in the same novel runs the risk of making the story seem jumbled and hard to follow, and this is what happened here.
2 - The negativity. This story starts out with a protagonist who is easily one of the most positive and optimistic protagonists I have read about in a long time. He was wondrously chipper, innocent and a joy to read about. Then over the course of the book, that fun, harmless man is torn down over and over until the point where it feels as though you are just reading a book about how to torture a really nice man. It left a sour taste in my mouth and made reading this book a bit of a chore at times.
So overall this is a three-star book that had the potential to be a five. I feel with a bit of working about and some more editing, this book could easily gain one of its stars back. To me, even something as simple as reorganising it to follow a linear timeline would instantly make it easier to follow and therefore more pleasant to read.
However, that isn't the case so we end up with a story that I enjoyed reading and can happily recommend, but sadly have to score a bit lower than I hoped. If you're looking for something a little different from the norm, then definitely give this a try.
Bits of it are brilliant. I loved the riff about house-renovation, the girl with wings is a great image (that cover art is fabulous) and other nice images come up. But I wanted to know what Alan/Alvin/Abe looks like. Why are the visuals so patchy? I could see Mimi, I could see Kurt, but the protagonist (whose manifest weirdness we have to take on trust) remains a cipher. I didn't get the feeling of a living, seething world. The illusion kept sputtering and fading and the grid kept showing through.
Worth a read, though. Wait for the paperback, maybe.
Weird, weird, weird! Hard to put down, you are driven along by the interesting characters and storyline. This story grabs you and forces you to deal with the strangeness (Bizareness even) of the characters.
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