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Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid number two, 27 July 2009
This review is from: Frantic Planet: Volume II (Paperback)
Frantic Planet Volume II is topped and tailed by two lengthy novellas which look at the uneasy relationship between modern society and the individual. "Via Delarosa" is a witty insight into fame, specifically the way celebrity culture and modern media can bring fame without achievement to people unprepared for its effects. Encompassing moments of comedic caper and psychological darkness, this is a twisting journey to an ending which trumps even the genre-savvy's reader's expectations.

"Between Flaws" is pegged on two incidents, one individual and repulsively comic, the other national and chillingly devastating. This disparity reflects the story's central theme: the juxtaposition of a 21st century world in which we are technologically more communicative than ever, yet many have never been so isolated. Like all truly successful storytelling, its free-flowing narrative is hinged on a deliberate structure which is clear upon later analysis, but does not clumsily encroach on the reading experience.

Whereas volume one arguably suffered from inconsistent degrees of reality across its contents all but two of volume two's tales are set firmly in the world that we inhabit under the rules of reality and logic we all face. "The Ostrich and the Insects" is, to all but the most God-fearing reader, not among this list, telling as it does the story of a literal fallen angel. However, like a Jim Carrey movie without the schmaltz, it tackles this in a realistic fashion in looking at how we would truly respond to such an event. Later the story turns its hand to both religious symbolism and elements of true horror.

The remaining seven short stories vary in style and length, though to my mind the weakest and most experimental of the concepts on display are also the shortest, meaning no story outstays its welcome. By far the highlight is The Diary Of Blue Horse, a tale of a man's descent into self-destructive insanity. In something of a homage to Memento, the story is told in reverse chronological order, meaning the reader's curiosity is about cause rather than effect.

As would be expected, Volume II builds upon its predecessor's strengths by better fleshing out ideas: experiences and incidents become fully-developed plots with overarching themes. It's difficult to imagine anyone who read the original not adding this to their reading list, but even those who've not had the pleasure will find the sequel rewarding.

"It's an entertaining read" is the type of lazy cliché pilloried throughout the novel, but it is true in the word's widest sense: it relentlessly engages both interest and emotion.
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Location: Manchester, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 7,918,868