Top critical review
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Governments BAD Journalists GOOD
on 10 December 2011
Like most other reviewers, I enjoyed Lelic's first novel, despite his tendency to use stereotypes: the sexist cops, the dumb jock of a gym teacher.
The Facility was less good.
There were even more over-familiar figures: pompous, lying politicians, heartless doctors, brutal prison guards, crusading journalists: all a bit BBC.
I also found the treatment of the patients at The Facility utterly mystifying. Why did they have to be abused so badly? Is Lelic trying to make them ciphers for terrorists? If so, why?
It's great, however, that Lelic is dealing with modern issues and concerns. Once again, his writing is meaty with plenty of strong imagery and technique, but in The Facility I also found it pedantic, earnest and long-winded. Many pages of 'personal story' could have been cut. And although billed as a thriller (isn't everything these days?) there are few thrills: little happens and there is little tension. The facility is established, a journalist tries to find out the truth, there's a predictable government cover up, murders etc and that's pretty much your lot. The author doesn't try very hard to surprise us.
Lelic's strengths and real interests (as demonstrated in Rupture) seem to lie in character analysis and motivation: in The Facility, none of the characters are fully formed or idiosyncratic enough to truly 'live'. A stronger book might have centred purely on just one of the major characters: the Facility's director, Henry Graves, and his moral struggle with his work, or the wrongly imprisoned Arthur Priestley. I'm not sure throwing in the 'thriller' aspects helped the novel at all.