John Courtney Grimwood
I'm intending to read the two sequels to Pashazade, but I was curious to see how Grimwood's plots and writing nuances would play out in something not that part of the series, so I did this one, largely a character-centered thriller set in the near future. I found it significantly less interesting, mildly good but not a very impressive novel. For one thing, here it seemed to wear the forms of a thriller, a murder mystery and cyberpunk far more directly without as much interesting variation. As well, the worldbuilding here is pretty meager--it's near-future, and the world of 2018 looks excessively similar to the world in 2007 (continuing war in Iraq, fear over terrorism and some new tech). It recalls Richard Morgan in a number of ways, particularly it’s fairly violent, ultra-sexualized intense personal narrative. It didn’t seem to have as good a handle on the deconstructive elements of the narrative as Morgan does, and didn’t seem interested in contextualizing masculinity or militancy to the same extent. In large part the story appeared to devolve just to what was on the surface. While there were other components and ambiguties going on these weren’t enough to transform or significantly deepeen the main story. So what the story is left with is some interesting character work, questions of self-ambiguity and a plot that was engaging but fairly flimsy. The whole venue left me somewhat underwhelmed.
Worse than: Pashazade by John Courtney Grimwood
Better than: The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak