Thursday, 1 November 2007

The End of Mr Y

I picked up this book on a whim because I liked the cover (it reminded me of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) and because Philip Pullman had a blurb on the back cover praising it and also because I compulsively buy books in exactly the same way an alcoholic buys cheap cider the day before Good Friday.

Its a strange book to describe as it starts off as a mystery surrounding a supposedly cursed book (The End of Mr Y) but then quickly delves into the philosophical world of existence, language, thought, creation, religion, time travel, while at the same time not forgetting the ubiquitous bad guys chasing our heroine and trying to kill her. Its a fun read but its major weakness is in its characterisation, the heroine Ariel Manto is a supposedly emotionally damaged young woman due to her tough and impoverished upbringing but only for the fact she keeps telling you this (with the occasional reference to self harm) you'd never guess. In fact she sounds like a regular person, a regular American person even, certainly not a northern English girl with a degree from the 'Life of Hard Knocks University'. The other characters pretty much suffer from this paper thin portrayal as well which is handy as it enables them to leap plot holes in a single bound and provide the necessary impetus to move the plot forward to a neat, if not surprising conclusion. In short its a good fun read but if you want philosophy and physics I'd look elsewhere.