Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Vertigo

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During the Second World War a French refugee has been working on a device that will have the potential to elevate mankind to a new level of existence but in the wrong hands it could just destroy the universe as we know it. In the present time Joe Spork, a clockmaker, is induced to complete this device.

It is incredibly difficult to categorise Angelmaker. There are elements of steampunk, with clockwork automata and a submarine to compete with Verne’s Nautilus, but it’s definitely not steampunk. There are elements of urban fantasy or maybe magical realism, but neither is it that. It is a thriller, and it is certainly weird, but exactly what genre it might be categorised in is very much up for debate. I notice that in GoodReads it has been variously shelved as science fiction, science fantasy, fantasy, steampunk, mystery and thriller. It also has elements of humour but more of the clever, snarky sort of humour rather than outright comedy. And many of its characters are more caricature, reminiscent of a modern-day Dickens novel, such as the massively fat-and-proud-of-it Mr Cummerbund and his small thin companion Mr Titwhistle and the positively Oliver Twistian criminal, but somehow noble, London underworld.

The writing is also quite unique; I’m tempted to say that Harkaway is disinclined to use ten words where a couple of hundred will do just as well, but that would be a little harsh. It is certainly self-indulgent and at times the digressions, which can be quite long, just feel like literary showing off. And there’s no denying that it could have been written much more concisely, and that the pacing does sometimes suffer from it. But, and here’s the thing, I couldn’t help but enjoy these quirky and often humorous ramblings. Maybe it’s showing off, but Harkaway is really quite good at it, as I had already seen in hist first book, The Gone-Away World, and I found myself loving the writing purely for its own sake. I imagine this is an aspect that as many people will hate as those that love it, but there you go, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and, where pacing was important, this rambling was largely held in check, allowing the story to build up to a very well-paced denouement. And, besides, you have to love a book with a 90-year-old retired, but by no means washed up, martial artist spy.



5/5 stars
 

Danny McG

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I hope you like it! It's....different! Certainly very unpredictable!
Nearly finished it now and I'm enjoying it a lot.

I see what you mean about the writers ramblings but they do add backfill to the story. I feel he picked that technique up from his daddy.
 

Vertigo

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Nearly finished it now and I'm enjoying it a lot.

I see what you mean about the writers ramblings but they do add backfill to the story. I feel he picked that technique up from his daddy.
Yes you're right they do give more colour and personally I think it's a better book for it, but I have seen some pretty heavy criticisms of it and I can see how some would find it frustrating. I've never been a reader of Le Carre or spy books in general so I can't comment on that aspect.
 
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