JJ's Reviews > Neuropath

Neuropath by R. Scott Bakker
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's review
Jul 11, 11

bookshelves: thought-provoking
Read in July, 2011

I have mixed feelings about Neuromancer.

On the one hand, Bakker is amazing (I've already fallen in love with his Prince of Nothing trilogy); he embellishes on his characters' personalities so that they feel larger than life, but they're still so human, so flawed, and I find myself empathising with the main character, Tom, very early. His love for his children is such a beautiful thing to experience (and it is very much an experience).

The book masquerades as a crime thriller, but there's almost no mystery, right from the beginning. There's a relatively interesting plot, and a great twist towards the end, and the final few scenes are brilliantly surreal. But this all comes secondary to the philosophy of the book.

Neuropath is also loaded with insight. For example,

It had occurred to him that the real tragedy of marital breakdown was not so much the loss of love as the loss of place. "Who are you?" he used to cry at Nora. It was one of the few refrains he meant genuinely, at least once the need to score points had climbed into the driver's seat. "No. Really. Who are you?" It began as an entreaty, quickly becoming an accusation, then inevitably morphed into its most catastrophic implication: "What are you doing here?"
Here. My home.
To drift across that final, fatal line was to be locked in a house with a stranger. Or even worse, to become that stranger.

Along with a basket of small insights, like the one above, comes concepts of a more psychological/philosophical nature, examining ugly truths about humanity, and also questioning the very idea of consciousness, free will and meaning.

(view spoiler)

In most respects, I agree with this, but I never really promote the idea because others will either disagree, or agree and become disenchanted with the world, and what is the point of that? On top of this, Bakker frames these ideas in the most depressing way possible. It's very, very convincing, because it uses a scientific basis to support these ideas, rather than a philosophical one, but it's also very, very depressing. I had already considered most of this in the past, so it didn't touch me too personally, but I would hate to crush an idealist by recommending this book to them.

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Reading Progress

07/08/2011 page 32
8.53% "Scott Bakker has a very piercing perspective; 'It was an old college game of theirs, describing everyday events in pseudoscientific terms. Since science looked at everything in terms of quantity and function instead of quality and intention, the world it described could sound frighteningly alien.'"
07/08/2011 page 52
13.87% "Bakker is goddamn amazing. I'm fifty pages in and I already feel serious sympathy for Thomas. All the characters seem so real, even though Bakker embellishes on their personalities and makes them feel slightly larger than life."

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