Yes, the story is loopy, but it's so much fun. Well worth listening to twice - or even more. Harkaway brings something to Dystopian fiction that it seldom sees: - truly memorable characters, a wild, memorable story, and even worthwhile ponderings. Gone-Away has twists and turns that are well worth the effort it takes to getting your brain around. The narrator is superb.
One often fears what happens when a favorite novelist decides he has something to say: something personal, something political or religious, something other than story. You're afraid the resulting novel will lose the free-form sense of wonderment that made the previous novels so exceptional. Will you be left with an elaborate moral essay? No matter how well-written or correct, such a work would nonetheless, be a bit of a letdown.
But this is Nick Harkaway we're talking about. No one juggles Life's Big Questions with story arch the way he does. But while spinning unforgettable stories populated by unforgettable characters, his two previous novels were clearly more about brain than heart. He nimbly teased us with moral quandaries amid plot twists racing towards a can't-stop-reading-now climax. Tigerman is different. It offers no doomsday machine or crazy substance that separates matter from what we know about matter. It does, however, have a huge heart. And, I'm happy to report that Harkaway's storytelling talent hasn't suffered under the burden of a tale with more emotional heft than brilliant plot devices. Tigerman is a different type of Harkaway novel, but just as good as anything else he's written.
Beneath the hundreds of pages spent describing the main characters running towards each other through the tulips in slow motion, Outlander is a very good story.
Time-travel stories often spend too many pages describing the contrasts between modern and ancient, as experienced by the traveler. In this story, the main character is modern, but not a stranger to sudden adversity. So we are spared some of that.
All characters are drawn fairly well. The novel is mainly a Masterpiece Theater-flavored family drama set in 18th-century Scotland, very few sci-fi or fantasy elements.
Outlander bears none of the clever conundrums of The Time Traveler's Wife, nor the memorable, edge-of-your-seat pacing of Connie Willis' Doomsday Book, two other novels with heroines forced to straddle the centuries. Outlander has too many romantic scenes, too much swooning and fainting and sentences that begin with "My heart was racing..." Beneath all of this is a great story, worth reading or listening to.
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