``Opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.''
WARNING, WHOPPING SPOILERS AHEAD. I write these pages as notes, records
and reminders to myself of books I have read. You are welcome to peruse these
reviews, but be warned that they will spoil your reading pleasure if you have
not already read them.
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My first Ballard, and supposedly his best work. Thus my extremely high
expectations were sure to be confounded. But the work genuinely has a
sense of place: the near-future Cannes industrial complex seems to be
described down to the blades of grass on the front lawn (the book is not
by any means overwrought), and every single one of the people visited in
this book is a fully developed individual. It is monumental.
The drift of the story itself is set from the beginning, yet the ending is
strangely always a way away and unpredictable. The protagonist goes to
Cannes to investigate the murder of his predecessor, and uncovers a
psychology experiment that has gotten out of hand: to allow the
high-pressured workers of the industrial complex to let off steam by
engaging in dangerous, even murderous, activities. The story touches on
supremeism and racialism, elitism and oppression, and presents it all
under the shiny wrappings of an ultra-modern idealistic, but unattainable,
lifestyle. As one turns the pages, the driving thought at the back of
one’s mind is ‘How far will they dare to take this?’ In the end, it goes
all the way.
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