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Angelmaker

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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  8,874 ratings  ·  1,317 reviews
Joe Spork repairs clocks, a far cry from his late father, a flashy London gangster. But when Joe fixes one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. Joe's client, Edie Banister, is more than just a kindly old lady--she's a former superspy. And the device? It's a 1950s doomsday machine. And having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government ...more
Hardcover, 482 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published February 2nd 2012)
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carol. Here's what happens: A billionaire has created a technique to clone dinosaurs. From the DNA that his crack team of scientists extract, he is able to…moreHere's what happens: A billionaire has created a technique to clone dinosaurs. From the DNA that his crack team of scientists extract, he is able to grow the dinosaurs in his laboratories and lock them away on an island behind electric fences, creating a sort of theme park. He asks a group of scientists from several different fields to come and view the park, but something goes terribly wrong when a worker on the island turns traitor and shuts down the power, escaping with a sample of dinosaur DNA.(less)

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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,874 ratings  ·  1,317 reviews


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carol.
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: genre-busters
Shelves: thriller, humor
I opened Angelmaker with high expectations. I enjoyed The Gone-Away World a great deal, and admired the blend of characterization, humor, and social commentary with a solid underlying concept. While those elements are in place for Angelmaker, it was a struggle to read until it gained momentum halfway through.

It has been a challenge to figure out why, but I think at heart, the beginning reads a little like a collection of short stories or vignettes, which makes the thriller plotting drag. There i
...more
seak
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, audio
Nick Harkaway is a genius. Be ready for a highly impartial (minus the im-) review...

I almost just left the review like that, but I guess I'll add a few more lines:

writing: beautiful.

I gave this to a friend who only reads thrillers and mysteries (Patterson, etc.) and it was too much for him in the prose department. This is a good sign for me. That means it wasn't garbage. Okay, that's not fair, but it does mean that it had colorful prose, which it does.

humor: hilarious.

It's just about perfect. M
...more
Paul  Perry
I usually only mark as to-read books I own, but on seeing that Nick Harkaway has a second novel due out there is absolutely no doubt I'm going to read it. No pressure, but The Gone-Away World was not only one of the best debuts I've ever read, but one of my all time favorite books.
Megan Baxter
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is crazy. It is all over the place. And yet it hangs together, better than I thought Harkaway's previous book The Gone Away World did. I enjoyed The Gone Away World even though I didn't think the story, in the end, quite jelled. This one did, and I loved it.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Clouds

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my GIFTS AND GUILTY list.

Regardless of how many books are already queued patiently on my reading list, unexpected gifts and guilt-trips will always see unplanned additions muscling their way in at the front.


I have a friend called Justin (true story); a crazy,
...more
Kinga
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-2012
On paper it looks perfect. Steam punk, romance, spy novel, comedy, action. All the reviews promised something I would love. But I struggled through this ‘fun, thrilling yarn’ like I struggle through some dense academic volumes. There were just too many words. Harkaway goes on and on in that typical British style that’s funny for a page but then gets tiring and all the dialogues read like a Monty Python script.

“I shall now explain my plan. You may then speak, but only to amend the detail. The br
...more
paula
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
I wish I could write the review this book deserves, as Nick Harkaway (not his real name) wrote the review that Neal Stephenson's Reamd deserved - the one I was in the process of writing in my head. Stephenson's book was an action novel taken to absurd lengths, a nonstop global car/boat/bike chase firefight populated by real characters, most of whom you had to fall in love with. Ergo, I think it's no coincidence that Harkaway (still not his real name) felt he had some solid ground upon which to s ...more
TheBookSmugglers
Oct 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I was supposed to have written a review of Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker for Kirkus last week but I just couldn’t finish the book.

In principle, I should have loved this – heck, I had hoped Angelmaker would be so good it would even feature on my top 10 this year. It’s an outlandish Literary Fantasy novel featuring automata, London-based gangsters, World War II shenanigans and espionage with a plot to destroy the world using clockwork bees.

But an extremely bloated plot with obnoxiously verbose descri
...more
JBP
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I'm torn on this one. For every dazzling section that Nick Harkaway writes that is cool, unpredictable, lively and just awesome, he then writes a section that is meandering, show-offy and self-indulgent. It's too bad that he can't harness the greatness more often as this would be an epic entertainment involving a wide assortment of characters and action. But, he can't do that, as he goes on way too many off-shoots that slow the pacing and are just not needed. There is a re-occurring theme I have ...more
Ben Babcock
It would be tempting to say that Joe Spork lived a quiet, unremarkable life until he was pulled into an attempt to stop a mad South Asian dictator from unleashing a 1950s clockwork doomsday device by a retired octogenarian super-spy named Edie Banister. Tempting, but not quite accurate, since Joe is the son of the infamous Matthew “Tommy Gun” Spork, who kept fashionable crime and the honourable lifestyle of the gangster alive long after it should have faded into obscurity. Joe has turned his bac ...more
Phrynne
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had been looking forward to this book so much because his first book The Gone-Away World was one of my favorite reads last year. Sadly this one was not as good and for the first half of the book I did not like it at all. It floundered along in a mess of too detailed descriptions and overwritten back stories although the story was always good when he got back to it! And then around the half way mark the story took over, the author stopped meandering and everything got so much better. In fact I ...more
David
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lesbian James Bonds, sons of clockmakers who have to stop apocalyptic bees
Having enjoyed Nick Harkaway's debut novel, The Gone-Away World, very much, I looked forward enormously to Angelmaker, hoping to find a similar spirit of gung-ho up-against-it little people against a big evil world, with extra ninjas and doomsday weapons.

And he delivered. And the only reason I am giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is that he delivered pretty much the same package.

Nick Harkaway has a definite style, a very recognizable style, dialog full of clever banter and witty asides with even
...more
Jason
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
5 Stars

While I am giving this book full marks I cannot help but feel like I was let down or that Angelmakers was missing that extra something. The Gone Away World, Nick Harkaway’s debut novel, was my favorite read of the year, on my all time favorite list, and one that I continually think about rereading. This book, his sophomore novel, has some very high points, is written extremely well, but to me it is missing the magic that I found throughout his first book. That being said, my expectations
...more
Gabrielle
British humor, steampunk automaton, government conspiracies, characters with Dickensian names, a mystery to solve, a family past to come to grips with, a grumpy retired spy and her grumpy pug. I mean, come on: this sounds too good to be true… And yet here it is! "Angelmaker" had everything it needed to intrigue me, and I had so much fun reading it. Let the gushing begin!

Classifying this book is very tricky: it reads like a spy thriller at times, like a noir detective story at others, and like a
...more
RandomAnthony
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Sorry, Mr. Harkaway, I'm not finishing Angelmaker. I'm going two stars with a couple hundred pages left, full disclosure. While well-written in spurts, and with an interesting end of the world premise, Angelmaker reads like a book that's trying too hard and knows a little too much about how to insert cliches. Mysterious fat guy/skinny guy pairing? Check. Kind of hot but not taking any shit from the main character girl? Check. Goofy criminal friend getting the main character in trouble? Check. So ...more
Mish
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mish by: Michael
Wow! Outstanding.

Over the top, fun filled adventure novel I’ve read in ages – and slightly on the verge of madness!!!

In this story we follow the life of Joe Spork, a maker and repairer of antique clockwork and does the occasional odds and ends for his clients. A trade taught and carried on by his late grandfather. Joe prefers the quiet and uncomplicated life; a life under the radar compared to his eccentric, loud father, Matthew ‘Tommy Gun’ Spork, a legendary gangster of the Night Market. Joe’
...more
Sara
If ever there was a book that fit the "everything and the kitchen sink" shelf this is it. Nick Harkaway clearly has lots and lots and lots of amazing stories and characters running around his head and he certainly made every effort to put all of them in this psychedelic spy thriller. Fortunately with the help of an excellent turn of phrase and a gift for making the fantastical seem entirely possible he's left us with a cornucopia of literary delights rather than a garbage plate (upstate New York ...more
Rebecca
Silly, sarcastic and inventive. Lovable antihero Joe Spork is the grandson of a clockmaker and son of a mobster criminal – and in this unlikely caper he ends up taking after them both. His quiet life as a restorer of antique clocks is disrupted when he gets mixed up in the search for the secrets of the Apprehension Engine, a sort of apocalypse machine that is meant to dispense truth and godlike knowledge, but in reality seems only to release menacing swarms of golden bees.

In a series of flashbac
...more
Chris
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anglemaker is Neal Stephenson by way of P.G. Wodehouse. Or perhaps the other way around.

Rarely have I read a book so thoroughly enjoyable. Is it a "Great Work"? Perhaps not. But it is "art". I suppose some would say it's merely an adventure story. It is, but it's told with such wit and verve that I almost couldn't put it down. Mr. Harkaway so clearly loves his characters (even the bad ones) that they leap off the pages and demand that you acknowledge them.

The plot of the story is straightforwar
...more
Derpa
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Did not finish.
The book is so weirdly written that I had a hard time concentrating on anything. Verbose, like it swallowed a thesaurus, it just really killed the momentum. I mean many of you would probably like it, but I didn't feel like I was having fun when I had no idea where we were and where we were going. It also all sounded the same. Different characters' inner monologue sounded like the author, not like separate people.
Absolutely not for me.
Victoria
This book was one that sounded so interesting from its description. I wasn't sure what to expect, but "noir" is not an accurate description that the publisher applied. It is more of an urban pseudo-fantasy, set in a sort of steampunk-version of London, and this is a genre that simply does not hold much appeal to me. There are moments when the story and its characters utterly sucked me in - especially Bastion the pug, but the style of the novel as a whole just couldn't captivate me. The meanderin ...more
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
First, this book is marvellously written. It follows two sets of events - the present belonging to our hero, Joshua Joseph Spork, and the past belonging to Edie Banister, now a ninety year old former spy. Their individual chapters switch until they come to a point where they become one extraordinary story. Some of them end in cliffhanger which would have annoyed me to no end if Joe or Edie hadn't been equally interesting.

Joe Spork promised his father, a criminal genius, not to be like him and he
...more
Michael
Joe Spork is the son of an infamous gangster “Tommy Gun” Spork, trying to live a quiet life fixing antique clocks. His plans were uprooted when he finds an unusual clockwork mechanism. Turns out that device is a doomsday machine and Joe has triggered it. Now Joe Spork has to face the wrath of both the British government and the diabolical villain Shem Shem Tsien. Angelmaker is an adventure unlike anything I’ve read before, featuring a mystery involving Joe Spork and his quest to stop the evil vi ...more
Abigail
I enjoyed Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. I was immensely drawn in from the start, and continually intrigued by the paths the story was taking. Based on the first half (or more) of the book, I didn't necessarily expect the turn our protagonist Joe Spork took, and I'm still not sure how it felt to me - almost like two parallel story lines converging into one; a little unexpected, maybe a little clunky, but ultimately it ran smoothly. Joe Spork from two realities meeting and morphing into one like Fi ...more
Lea
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Oh my goodness. I should have LOVED this book -- and there was a lot about it that I really did like. But the length of it, my god, the length. The story goes back and forth between World War II and the present day -- while the backstory provided by the historical segments was necessary, it was all just too damn long, and it pushed me past my breaking point. So much so that I was literally struggling to finish the book by the final few pages -- pages that, under normal circumstances, would leave ...more
nostalgebraist
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Nick Harkaway is a puzzle. Does he write above his material, or below it? By his "his material" do I mean his ludicrous, pulpy, indulgent stories, or do I mean the joyous sense of humanity, camaraderie and good humor with which he tells them? Which of these is more fundamental?

In his very perceptive review of Harkaway's debut, The Gone-Away World, Jonathan McCalmont pinpoints what is offputting about Harkaway's characters:

When Master Wu dies, for example, we are expected to feel sadness and, to
...more
Rick F.
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World, blistering gangster noir meets howling absurdist comedy as the forces of good square off against the forces of evil, and only an unassuming clockwork repairman and an octogenarian former superspy can save the world from total destruction.

Joe Spork spends his days fixing antique clocks. The son of infamous London criminal Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, he has turned his back on his family’s mobster history and aims to live a quiet life. That orderly
...more
Kim
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kim by: Michael
This is a quite a strange book. It starts out as a mystery involving a mild-mannered clockmaker and it evolves and transforms through a World War II spy story, a bizarre psychoanalytical section and finally 50's/60's-style England gangster.

While it wasn't very engaging at first it slowly picked up steam especially once I got to Edie's back story. From there the story propelled on through twists and turns to the good, but inevitable, ending. Joe was a great character as he went through a transfor
...more
William Thomas
I'm a sucker for a great cover. The old adage about not judging only applies in its metaphoric sense. Anything with a phenomenal graphic design like 'Angelmaker' will make me wet myself with all of the aesthetic pleasure to be had. Reading the book is a very secondary pleasure. I collect books sometimes just for the cover and let them sit around the house as decration. The premiise of 'Angelmaker' was so intriguing that I didn't do the usual 'let-the-new-book-sit-around-for-3-years-before-I-read ...more
J.P.
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This could have been called A Chip Off the Old Block since the author is the son of John Le Carré. And a tip of the hat to Nick Harkaway for not using that to gain publicity.
The acorn does not fall far from the tree as they say so you might think this is all about spies, but this is one of those novels that’s impossible to attach a brief label to. An intriguing blend of steam punk, spies and gangsters, this is a complex, gritty book that developed quickly into an engaging read.
Joe Spork is liv
...more
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39,540 followers
Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall, UK in 1972. He is possessed of two explosively exciting eyebrows, which exert an almost hypnotic attraction over small children, dogs, and - thankfully - one ludicrously attractive human rights lawyer, to whom he is married.

He likes: oceans, mountains, lakes, valleys, and those little pigs made of marzipan they have in Switzerland at new year.

He does not like: b
...more
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“I love you forever. I am sorry I cannot love you now.” 62 likes
“And don't tell me the end justifies the means because it doesn't. We never reach the end. All we ever get is means. That's what we live with.” 32 likes
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