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08 February 2014

'The Gone-Away World' by Nick Harkaway

 I was scared from about ten pages in and stayed scared until a week after I had finished

What if mankind (or an idiot military scientist intent on a weapon that makes your enemies GoAway) invented a weapon that manifested our worst nightmares and our most innocent unicorn fantasies all mixed up.  Such a weapon, fed by our own fears and imagination would soon be out of control.  Our reality would also quickly disintegrate... several times a day if your luck is bad.  'The Gone-Away World' describes such a world.  I can imagine being attacked by my own imagination.  And I use the word imagine because it is a fantasy not a reality.  Those that believe it is reality are often afflicted with a mental illness.  But, what if?  I was scared from about ten pages in and stayed scared until a week after I had finished the book.

Kids often do this king of wishful thinking, you know, the one about having wings or a perfect family.  Adults do it too but with different props.  See now you get me.  It is true that there is nothing in this world as terrifying as the contents of our own heads.  I grew up on a steady diet of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Anime, manga, comics and literary classics.  Does this give you an idea of what is in my head on a daily basis?  I should be grateful I avoided Horror.  So then I try to put myself in Nick Harkaway's universe; I even inserted some of my childhood fantasies as a test.  There is no getting away from such a nightmare; there are even mimes but no clowns (thank God… or author)

'The Gone-AwayWorld'  was written before 'Angelmaker' and while I like the protagonists in that book better than here, I still enjoyed the complexity of the environment and the large group of characters that come in and out of the story.  Sometimes the characters are a bit wooden, I think because there are so many.  Nick does a better job of fleshing people out in his next book.  Having said that, his narrator is interesting and reliable until, well… There is a twist, as is often the case but it is a good twist.  Twists often signal a change, perhaps the resolution or a release.  This twist is all of those things but I still find it frightening. It is the sort of twist that I would not like to meet from my own imagination.

I recommend this book.  I enjoyed it.  It challenged me.  I had to pay attention as an active reader.  Nick Harkaway did not spoon feed me anything.  I can imagine him tightening the screws of some complex machine and laughing as he gives an extra twist to make sure I get full value for my effort.

Nick Harkaway 
ISBN: 9780434020942 

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