This book, listed as science fiction/fantasy, is an odd mix of parable, analogy, political comment and adventure. The style of writing falls mostly under the ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’ label, which makes for a strangely disconnected read for much of the time.
There’s a transition from the beginning, set on terra ferma in Australia, and the sudden descent into an underground fantasy world, that I found a little jarring. In fact, at this point I almost gave up reading.
In spite of gaping holes in the logic of the underground world (no clues as to how the large population is fed, disposes of waste, lives in a world devoid of natural light, processes crude oil into a usable fuel etc.), I was intrigued about where the story would lead me.
The characters do lend some engagement to a narrative I found at times irritating and a little juvenile. There’s a message here that the author is desperate to relate: it’s a strong statement about power and its tendency to corrupt; a theme I strongly empathise with. It was this theme that dragged me to the end of the story.
Ultimately, this is a book that would benefit from some good editing and a significant rewrite. Nevertheless, it managed to keep my attention, in spite of many irritations, to the end. An ending saved in no small way by the humour applied.
I wish I could say I really liked this book. As it is, I felt a strange compulsion to get to the end; more a challenge set and fulfilled than an enjoyable read. Certainly one of the oddest books I’ve read.
[A review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can provide is an honest reaction to any given book.]