Jan's Reviews > Angelmaker

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
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's review
Jul 17, 2012

it was amazing
Read in June, 2012

I had more fun reading Angelmaker than I've had with a book since I was twelve. It's a comic book wrapped in a literary novel, an incredibly inventive and beautifully written story of an ordinary guy who comes to realize that it's up to him to save the world. Throw in a bit of political commentary, a little philosophy (does knowing the truth bring salvation or doom?), a wealth of characters both real and larger-than-life, and you have an unforgettable novel. If you like Michael Chabon (especially "Gentlemen of the Road") and Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, you'll love this. Check out the cool promo on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxJn0W....

A few favorite passages:

A few decades of calm, she reasoned at the time, and the world would set itself straight. But somehow it all went wrong instead. The onward march of progress has wandered off down a dark alley and been mugged.

Picture a man, the tale [of the Recorded Man] went, in a bed of silk sheets. And picture all around him wires and cameras and men taking notes. Everything about him is written down. They are making a record of him: his breaths, his words, his pulse, his diet, his scent, his chemistry—even the fluctuations of electricity in his skin. As he grows weaker—for he is very old now, and injured, and sick—they press filaments of metal through holes in his skull and into the fabric of the brain itself, and record the chasing flashes of thoughts running from fold to fold of the grey stuff inside his head. And through all this, he is conscious, and aware. Is he a prisoner? A millionaire? Does he feel pain or horror at his own predicament? Does he have any idea why this is happening? It’s so bizarre. And yet somewhere, somewhere, it is real, and he is lying there. Perhaps, when he is gone, they will need someone else. Perhaps they will need you.

Above all, he mistrusts duplication. A rare thing becomes a commonplace thing. A skill becomes a feature. The end is more important than the means. The child of the soul gives place to a product of the system....For anything really important, Joe prefers something with a history, an item which can name the hand which assembled it and will warm to the one who deploys it. A thing of life, rather than one of the many consumer items which use humans to make more clutter; strange parasitic devices with their own weird little ecosystems.

So he cheated back. He abandoned Daniel’s world in order to preserve it, and from that lesson drew his entire life. He broke laws, cracked safes, smashed windows and shattered the public peace, and from destruction he drew consolation. The biggest lie was that the world worked the way it was supposed to, and having seen through it, Mathew Spork was free.

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