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Customer Review

on 29 December 2010
Essentially a spy thriller, the book imagines a post-climate-change world, vastly changed by the melting of polar ice and spiraling further and further from order and morality and ever closer to a world culture of fundamentalism and eugenics. Miller's southern USA is a kind of Christian fundamentalist police state, with Florida set up as a naturally and morally barren buffer-zone in which atheists, homosexuals and non-Christians seek refuge. Miller's protagonist, unfeasibly young and fit Iraq veteran Mark Burrows, is sent into this cultural melting pot to seek out and contain a former fellow soldier who has become a the ringleader of a dangerous radical fundamentalist organisation. Needless to say, the novel begins from an overblown premise -- Miller is rather arrogantly attempting to at once re-write Heart of Darkness AND a satirize the contemporary US socio-political landscape -- and goes steadily downhill from there, managing to deliver characters and plot-twists which are at once ridiculously far-fetched but also depressingly predictable. The scenery in this never-defined future world feels wrong -- social groups, the landscape and the climate are almost unrecognizable, yet the Iraq war feels like a recent event and technology (laptops, mobile phones, cars, weapons, planes) seems to have remained at a standstill. Mark Burrows is a cardboard cutout and yet also the most real of all the characters Miller depicts -- and his methods of depiction are at their worst utterly cringeworthy. Mary, the young hitchhiker Burrows picks up as he journeys to Florida, speaks in a phonetically-spelled Southern-US accent that after a while, hurts to read. All in all the book feels resoundingly hollow, and suspiciously knocked-together-for-cinema-adaptation
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