Sunday, January 26, 2014

Jack Glass

Jack Glass is an odd little novel. Its supposedly a blend of classic science fiction with classic detective novels, and it certainly does have elements of them in it. Each of three distinct sections to the book has a mystery to it, but I'm not entirely sure how you are meant to solve most of them, the solutions to some of them being extremely esoteric and implausible.

It gripped me initially with a gritty prison tale, where 7 prisoners were left in an asteroid for 11 years with  basic equipment to survive, and expected to fend themselves. This was a dark and mostly compelling tale, with disturbingly graphic outbreaks of violence scattered across the tale. This story takes up the first third of the book. Suddenly, for the second third, having followed the mysterious Jac, the character followed by the narrative switches to the deeply obnoxious Diana.

Diana is a 16 year old girl, heir to one of the families that controls most of the human race. She and her sister, Eva, have been genetically modified to be geniuses, an ability which, to be honest, is mostly informed. She is written as a rather accurate depiction of an obnoxious 16 year old, and while her experiences make her more sombre, she never really grows more sympathetic. This tonal shift slows the narrative right down, and while it has a few highlights from then on, it never really recovers. Some of the elements later in the story border on the smug, and I probably wouldn't have bothered continuing if the opening section hadn't shown much promise.

The world built by the author was plausible, and the character of Jac/Jack interesting, but the bizarre switch of protagonist mid-story just made this much less enjoyable than it could have been.

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