Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

by

For the early part of this book I was having real trouble enjoying it. I think that’s because I try to empathise with characters (we all do) and that my mind it driven by logic. It was tough to deal with a humanoid (but not human) main character who has a mountain for a father and a washing machine for a mother and whose siblings include an island, a set of triplets that stack inside each other like Russian dolls, a brother who can see the future and another who comes back from the dead. Once the story starts to leave them behind and follow the main character (called Adam, Allen, Arthur — anything starting with an A) I started to get into it a bit more.

The ideas are a little odd in places, but the interactions between the characters are wonderful, the characterisation well-drawn and the story intriguing and, in the end, that pulled me through. Of particular note, for me, were the parts about the relationship between Adam and his first girlfriend and also his discussions with Mimi. The former was charming and seemed to offer a wonderfully embarrassing account of young love.

Not knowing Cory Doctorow personally I don’t know what his aspirations for his books are. I have read his three released novels, and they show a progression and a, for me, maturing of his writing. His grasp of narrative seems to have moved on a pace in this novel, finally striking a good balance. On the other hand, I can’t help thinking that he could be a much better known, much wider read author if he stuck to more traditional tales. I assume he doesn’t want to follow the pack.

Incidentally, you download all of Cory’s books for free from his website

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Reviewed: 9th July 2005