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Customer Review

33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars McEwan's worst book to date, 12 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Solar (Hardcover)
If you compare the professional reviews of "Solar" with the more realistic views expressed my many Amazon reviewers here, it's fair to say that this isn't a great book in the opinion of many. And I would have to agree. "Solar" is quite a short novel by today's standards, but it reads like a very long one indeed. McEwan presents us with a detailed and ultimately pointless story of Michael Beard, a Noble Prize-winning scientist who over the duration of the book (2000, 2005, 2009) continues a journey of self-destructive abuse, juggling career and personal disasters in equal measure. Indeed it reads more like 3 linked short stories about the same unlikeable man than as a novel.

It's done with the usual McEwan attention to detail and sharp writing. But apparently this time (according to some) we also get humour. If that's the case then it certainly completely eluded my reading of the book. Sure, there were over-laboured attempts and being funny, but that's not the same as effortless humour. This is something that McEwan doesn't bring to his books, any lightness of touch or self-depracation is lost in the po-faced, technical writing that outlines his characters and the dilemmas they find themselves in.

Usually, McEwan gets his books off to interesting, tantalising starts and then loses interest and ends them with weak conclusions. This time, he seems to start off as he means to continue: with a turgid and uninteresting story about an unlikeable main character that tells us much about greed and avarice and the backbiting, snippy world of science, but it just doesn't go anywhere. Anyone else penning such stuff would find it hard to get published. That McEwan has managed to garner such lavish praise for such mediocre work tells you much about the gulf that exists between what readers really think, and what paid reviewers in the newspapers want you to believe.

A really dreary book that I was relieved to finish.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Dec 2010, 22:59:10 GMT
gracefuldad says:
This was a really dreary book that I was relieved to abandon half way through! I'm so glad to read this review and others on Amazon that make it clear that continuing to plough through the remainder of this book would have been even more disappointing. Thank-you.

Posted on 8 Jan 2011, 14:12:43 GMT
V. R. Bell says:
I fully agree with this review. Why does one have to spend time in the company of such an unattractive man? Physically as well as morally. The story is thin and it feels as if the author doesn't know how to end it. So the easiest is total destruction. This story doesn't move you in any way, and even if there are quite a lot of technical details that most people probably don't understand there is really not much on what the sotry presumes to be about: climate change. The beginning of the story where the main character goes to the North Pole seems oddly disconnected from the rest.

In conclusion, not worth the effort of buying it or reading it. A waste of time and money!

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Mar 2011, 09:32:01 BST
cuba2basq says:
This reviewer has got it spot on. If McEwan were an unknown, Solar would NEVER have made it off the slushpile. As to professional reviewers - enough said!

Posted on 30 Sep 2016, 13:45:09 BST
Sorry, VR Bell, but why does a protagonist have to be attractive? Kingsley Amis's One Fat Englishman comes to mind, as repellent as his author, though unreliable, naive or confused narrators are probably my favourite. What it comes down to is, why do we have to IDENTIFY with our novelistic hero(ine)?
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Jl Adcock
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Ashtead UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,877