Sunday, 15 March 2009

Time to hit the road to Jeamland [Review: Only Forward]

This is an all-time favourite book. I initially judged it by its stand-out textured cover, and by the Tori Amos verse that introduces the first chapter. The action is divided between two settings, the first a collection of habitation zones each with its own, highly eccentric characteristics, suggestive of superficialty or consciousness and marked by incidental humour (the exaggerated street violence of Red, the Action Centre where no-one is supposedly competitive but they have thirty-seven sub grades of ticket collector, etc.) the second is the mysterious and eerie "Jeamland." The book is accessible to adolescents and adults and loses none of its impact for being an easy read. The twists and turns of the plot are effective and often moving, and this is also one of the best examples of the unreliable narrator I have come across, with a clear sense that the protagonist only gradually comes to trust the reader.
Author Michael Marshall Smith has also written many short stories, including the excellent collection What You Make It, and under the name Michael Marshall has written a series of thrillers starting with The Straw Men.

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