29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
This one is going to split the vote...,
This review is from: Pandaemonium (Hardcover)
Previous reviewers have summed-up this book pretty well, but I'd still like to add my own thoughts.
The depiction of an entire class of sixth formers is brilliantly done, and I can live with the occasional dense blocks of text where Christopher ruminates on religion, quantum physics and science in general. But the denouement is pretty weak and the plot too fantastical to be credible. 'Pandaemonium' calls for a bigger suspension of disbelief than usual for such a grounded author, but it does have plenty of other points in its favour.
It's not as satire-heavy as usual - Brookmyre is normally the literary equivalent of the hilariously non-PC Frankie Boyle - although he does lace up his Doc Marten's to give the Catholic Church a good kicking. But, and it's a HUGE but, there are still some superbly-handled intellectual ideas in here, some scenes of real excitement, and I really must once again mention the characterisation. In 'Pandaemonium he gives thirty 17-year-olds their own distinct personalities and thanks, in part, to his helpful list at the start of the book, we're never confused about who is who. I love the sections where he's simply describing their thoughts and actions: we have the class clowns and show-offs, the geeks, the hard men, the self-centred, good-looking ones etc. I can't emphasise how well-written and beautifully observed these passages are.
It is an atypical novel from this very clever writer, yet despite its shortcomings - remember he's never dabbled in quite this type of fantasy before - I still greatly enjoyed the vast majority of it. However, more than any of his previous novels, I suspect there'll be a few long-term fans who won't buy the whole premise of the book.
Brookmyre is one of a kind: ambitious, acerbic, offensively violent and pumped full of bile. He writes like no other British writer, which is why, despite its major weakness - that it stretches credibility to the limit - I feel there are still enough plusses in here to make it worthy of my four-star rating. It's just a pity about the ending...
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Initial post: 9 Jun 2010, 21:46:29 BST
Eileen Shaw says:
Having read A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil (my favourite Brookmyre so far), I can't wait to read another book with kids as the main characters - ATEIBAHBP was a masterwork - but going back and reading some of his earlier work, I wasn't quite so impressed. Thanks for this great review.
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jun 2010, 09:45:52 BST
'A Tale Etched...' is a great book - I loved it too. I've read all of Chris's stuff and with the exception of a couple of clunkers I've enjoyed them immensely: he's a very talented guy.
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