Nick Harkaway, son of John le Carré (author of the "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" series), became my favorite author when first I picked up a copy of his debut novel, "The Gone Away World", and his second addition to the literary world is, if anything, better than the first. I could honestly talk for hours about the man's skill with prose and his pithy turns of phrase. The way he writes, the descriptors he uses are so unique and abstract, and yet convey his meaning so precisely that there is no room left for ambiguity.
The style and genre are difficult to capture in a single category. It is literature, because it is smart--not only smart, but wise. It carries deeper meaning, the characterizations are superb (even of the most minor characters, and even when we are given only glimpses into their lives, the way in which Mr. Harkaway describes them lends to the reader the most absolute clarity in not only who they are, but why they are, and how they will soon be).
At the same time, this book is much more than literature. It is science fiction, as the protagonist races to unravel the mysteries surrounding his grandparents and a doomsday machine from the 1950s. It is adventure, as we follow Edie Bannister through her initiation into the secrets of a World War II-era cloak-and-dagger group of Britain's most forward-thinking masters of subterfuge. Suspense keeps you hanging on every word of every battle--and Harkaway's master wit leaves you giggling with glee only a paragraph after he has brought you through very meaningful and heartfelt mourning. Sword fights, shoot-outs, and explosions are brilliantly twined with romance, childhood anecdotes, smart humor, and harried escapes, with miraculous victories and devastating defeats.
A more ill-suited narrator could easily have made chaos out of the quick pace of Harkaway's prose and his tendency towards the occasional off-shoot of narration (and typical British only-somewhat-relative-digressions into exaggeration and polite melodrama). Daniel Weyman goes beyond doing the narrative justice. His voice is perfect, his accents spot-on, and the rhythm of his speaking matches perfectly to Harkaway's prose. There is nothing lost in translation, so to speak. He reads with emotion, and carries the listener with him. He hits the passion, the raw feeling that Harkaway's narrative inspires, and easily guides one back to the quiet when heavier consideration is due.
In short, I cannot recommend this book enough--and if you like it, do definitely check out Harkaway's other works as well. He is a truly gifted author who deserves a great deal more attention than he has received.
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