This book is about a murderer. It is presented in three parts. The first part begins with seven male prisoners being dumped into an asteroid. They must survive with minimal equipment and hollow out the asteroid until, eleven years later, the prison ship will return and pick them up. Predictable violent things happen, some of sexual nature. The rapes are not described in detail, but the violence is visceral. There is an exploration of human condition, of the economic value of a human being, and of the nature of violence. If you are an aspiring writer, I recommend you read it. I could teach a writing course just from the content of this first part. It is brilliantly written and it is unlike most commercial fiction we are accustomed to reading.
It is also an allegory. This isn’t the Martian, where science is rock solid; it’s a fable in space and it will stretch your suspension of disbelief.
The second part switched the point of view character to that of a sixteen year old. As a mother of two teenagers – although Kid 1 is edging out of that category now, I can tell you that the girl is a tween at best. Not only that, but the same narrative device that dialed up the violence in the first part has been used to dial up the inane quality of teenage interactions. There are cutesy words and cutesy speaking. “It was was was too exciting.” Or “hu-mi-li-ating.” It’s like he took Clueless, cooked it down to syrup, and smothered the narrative in it. I’m not sure where he is going with this. The child is obviously a blood-sucking butterfly, a cute and pampered thing, outwardly pretty and seemingly superficial, who is fascinated and excited by a murder of a servant. There are flashes of intelligence there. If only they weren’t buried under endless spelling out of random words. But even though the syrup is floating on the surface of blood, her character lacks the raw honesty of a teenage girl.
I am bouncing really hard from the overabundance of character-specific rhetorical devices. It is so overdone, it would be quite easy to mistake it for casual misogyny, which I don’t believe it is. I think this is a narrative that trades in extremes taken to the absurd heights. For some reason – and I need to think about why – I was able to accept hyperbole in the first part, yet in the second, perhaps because I was a teenage girl and I raised two, I struggle to continue. I will give it one more shot tonight to see if I can sink into the narrative. I suspect that it will be worth it.
To summarize: this is a really disturbing book that will make you think. It’s good for the brain. As always, Your Mileage May Vary. Don’t buy blindly. Here is Adam Robert’s website and Jack Glass is not on there under Writing. Your best bet for previewing it is likely to be a Kindle sample, or for those who do not have kindle, the Look Inside the Book Amazon feature.