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on 7 January 2003
No, no, no! For the record, I have a real soft spot for Iain Banks, but I don't know what's going on with this book. Some reviews and interviews stated that the book was written in record time for the author; to me, it shows. Banks has written some great dialogue over the years, but I defy anyone to find me a person who speaks like the people in this book, or who even holds internal dialogue like the main protagonist. It's not a bad book, don't get me wrong; but it's just too inconsistent and scattershot. The political rants are just too mild; if the author had wanted to vent through the character (nothing wrong with that), why not give it some bile at what's getting him down most rather than flicking rubber bands at too many targets?
It's so strange; the further into fantasy Banks goes, the more he says about real life and it's ideas; when he's got a real ongoing situation and the perfect mouthpiece to explore it, he doesn't. But, maybe he's got a nervous editor at the publishers, and these are days when it's better not to stick your head above the parapet...
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on 13 September 2002
Iain Banks is truly an author of these disassociated, disfunctional times. His unerring brand of the sinister and macabre, blended with universal humour, lucid insight, CIA-worthy inventiveness, and the bright sexiness of the disaffected. British talent like this could only come from Scotland or Northern Ireland; from portions of our complacent society yoked into brilliance.
Dead Air (read the synopsis) as a concept had the potential to be lukewarm. Twelve months ago the world didn't change hugely, but it's outlook (or inlook) did. This process of change within is encapsulted in this book; the development of the central character, Ken (McNutt... I ask you... more comedic value than a night at the Comedy Store), is a microcosm of the sweeping paranoia, re-evaluation,devil-may-care, fear, change and hope that has left few untouched in precious times.
Cinematic. Honest. Life without expectancy. I could not put this down until the last page, and then I wished i was starting again. If Carlsberg ran banks... if Banks designed funpark rides. I dare you not to read it.
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on 17 September 2002
As a real Iain Banks fan I have to confess to being slightly disappointed by this book. The storyline is captivating enough, as we follow DJ Ken Nott through angst and adventures in modern day London. But this character seems a pretty transparent vehicle for Banks' own political ranting, detracting from the book significantly. The plot line is, predictably, unpredictable and you really cannot guess what will happen next, but some of the cutting edge up to date references will surely confuse many, and become horribly dated in just a few years. Ranging wildly from very serious to tragi-comedy the reader is never quite sure where they stand, making this a long way, unfortunately, from being Banks' best effort to date. Sorry Iain.
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on 14 September 2006
If you start to read this book you will become bored. However, if you do get to the end of the book it is actually an okay story, which is why I gave it 2 stars. There is a lot of opinions and you do get the impression that Banks is using this book to rant. His character is very cliche and it's funny how everything just all falls into place. He has the friends, the money, the great job and an affair that happens when a woman sends him a key to a hotel room paid by her gangster husband. Dream on. It's not as good as any of his other books but if you finish reading it you do feel satisfied. The last 100 pages are page turners.
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on 25 April 2003
I have been a fan of Banks' fiction work for many years, but Dead Air continues the plummeting quality of his output from Song of Stone.
The main chaeracter evokes no sympathy, and is unbelievable: shock jocks are at the least media-savvy and Ken Nott is a fraud, a charade. He's out of touch of modern media (his language is excruciating, clearly the words of a man approaching his 50s and not his 40s in the book), and a perfect indictment of no research into the character.
The plot is pretty dull and predictable, running like any B-movie.
This is all so disappointing in comparison to Banks' earlier work.
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on 23 July 2007
I'm no writer, so I'll keep this review short. This is so far away from 'pish' as one reviewer has eloquently described it. The sarcastic tone of the narrator is very sharp and his story is well told. Very evocative of the times and I thought this was one of the best books I've read in ages. He gets himself in all sorts of trouble and the answer-phone message episode is hilarious.

It's not science fiction (thankfully) which is where a lot of the bad reviewers are coming from - they like that kind of stuff. Brilliant read, and if you've got a sense of humour you'll love it.

I'm reading Complicity now and that's great too. Same tone.
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VINE VOICEon 22 February 2004
This book is far too long. The first 300 pages are pretty dire stuff, all about a typical Banks left wing thirtysome DJ who's main interests are sex, drink and drugs, together with the usual fear of any kind of commitment or responsibility in his life (see almost any other Banks book for the general idea). Finally in the last 100 pages Dead Air comes to life, and something of substance actually happens!
The last 100 pages really are superb: hilarious, tense, moving, action packed and brilliantly well written. On page 299 I was never going to read another Banks book again; now I'm not so sure!
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on 24 November 2002
Iain Banks has written some great stuff so you have to read whatever he brings out. This will keep your interest but is short in the thought provoking department, seemingly more just a refracted pastiche of current events and thoughts cobbled together. Could do better.
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on 20 April 2004
I'm a great fan of Iain Banks and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyedthis book. The style is very similar to Complicity, the central characterwas, in my oppinion a clone of the one in Complicity. Maybe every so oftenIain Banks feels the need to release a story with plenty of socialcommentry, just to let off steam at the injustice of the world, who knows.As a libertarian socialist I find that I agree with the ranting KenMcNutt's oppinions anyway. As with many of Bank's characters McNutt issomewhat of a hypocrite, he won't go to the USA on holiday untill'democracy has been restored', dito China because of the 'butchers ofTianamen square', fair enough you might say, but he's quite happy to visitEgypt, hardly a beakon of democracy. The same hypocracy occurs in his lovelife. He gets angry at one friend for having sex with his (McNutt's)girlfriend, but he is prepared to go to bed with another friend's wife,and routinely betrays his girlfriend with other women. He also drivesaround London in a Land Rover, hardly very progressive is it, even KenLivingston uses public transport. To be fair to the character he doesadmit his hypocricy. One thing that annoyed me slightly was the obsessionwith how people look, everyone's young and attractive, and there's lots offassion mentioned, I didn't know what he was talking about to be honestand I doubt many other readers would either. I found that this book rushedalong at a great pace and found that I couldn't put it down. A few otherreviewers have given this book a hard time (but then I hated A Song ofStone, what a load of self indulgent drivell), but I recomend it and urgeyou to read it and make up your own mind, you'll never know untill youtry. Just goes to show everyone's looking for something different.
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on 8 September 2004
I'm not normally one to write reviews, but after reading some of the negative comments about this book, I felt I had to have a go...
As far as I know I've read all of Iain Banks' novels and I found this to be the best of a good bunch. Gripping and funny, and all in the usual Banks style. Brilliant!
Don't be put of by the other reviews, give it a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you will too.
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