This is a heart-slammer of a book. I don't know of anyone doing anything quite like it, especially not with this degree of skill. Thomas Blackthorne is, I hope, about to become a very well-known writer if his ability to combine sf, politics, fighting, and matters of the human heart and mind into a well-knit whole is any indication. I'm looking forward with great anticipation to Josh Cumberland's next appearance in print.
Fictional dystopian futures are often entertaining (for me, anyway) but they can be clichéd and predictable. Thomas Blackthorne's novel Edge probably doesn't quite qualify as fully dystopian but it is still a very compelling book detailing a Britain a few years from now in which life is going down the toilet for most of the population. You think people take TV like The X Factor seriously now? How about televised knife fights? How about a knife culture so ingrained in our society that almost everyone carries a blade and challenges to a fight literally mean life and death? If this sounds like your thing, you're in for a treat.
There are a couple of plotlines running through Edge. A teenage boy with an extreme phobia of knives has run away from his wealthy father after one session with a psychiatrist. Ex-military man Josh Cumberland is tasked with finding the boy while he attempts to come to terms with the failure of his marriage and a family member comatose in hospital. There's an upcoming General Election which looks like the incumbent PM staying in place despite the state of the country. And the US is one step away from civil war. Although it might sound as if there's too much going on to form a coherent story, these issues all work and come together to create a developed world. Not one I'd want to live in, but still one which might come to us if we're not careful.
My only complaint is with Cumberland's character. He's too much of a Jack Bauer/Jason Bourne for my taste. While those characters are entertaining, they're becoming a bit of a cliché. Thankfully, Blackthorne doesn't go into Lee Child territory and turn Cumberland into a Jack Reacher, but it's close on occasion.
Either way, Edge is definitely worth checking out and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Point.
I did enjoy this book to a certain extent, but it certainly has its failings. Parts of a near-future UK are well-realised and even the fixation with sword-fighting isn't as unbelievable as you might expect. Some of the tech is good as well. But the dialogue is fairly clunky and the characters act like 16 year olds and everyone is great friends except the baddies. I'd give 2.5 stars if possiblem but rounded up because it was a reasonable quick read on a plane. By the time the sequel comes out I'll probably remember fondly enough to buy it as well.
I had high hopes of angry robot but this is a big letdown. I suppose if you like Lee Child or others of his ilk, where the hero is a hardbitten supertough with psychotic tendencies, a special forces background and access to James Bond's toybox then this sort of young boy's fantasy is for you. References to martial arts classics and the use of slightly esoteric terminology don't impress me if they add nothing to the story. The characters are all paper-thin, the action scenes are dull and the plot is full of unlikely chances and downright howlers. Apoptosis? By the time I had struggled through to page 173 I felt as if that would be preferable to finishing.If this is the best angry robot can find I shall look elsewhere.