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Dead Water

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  147 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A novel of prodigious scope and ambition, ablaze with imaginative energy and rendered in mesmerizing prose—complete with polar bear attacks, tsunamis, modern piracy, airship crashes, Cold War intrigue, and a djinn

May 25, 1928: Over the frozen seas of the Arctic, an airship falls out of the sky. Among the survivors is a young scientist on the verge of a discovery that will
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Corvus
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Average rating 3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  147 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Rob Adey
This book really wrong-footed me. I thought it was going to be a bunch of only tenuously connected stories, like David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, so I didn't pay enough attention to what eventually coalesces into an intricate, brutal, century- and world-spanning thriller. I'd have appreciated it more if I'd made some notes.

There's a lot of good research gone into this - on weather, how shipping cargo works, Arctic exploration, nowadays pirates etc. That was slightly spoiled for me by the magical
Victoria Watson
Dec 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Spanning over 8 decades and several oceans, Simon Ings’s story is bold and impressive. The way real events and fiction intersect are very interesting.

Ings takes the reader on a journey around the world, following the lives of characters in India, Oman, Sri Lanka, Canada, the US and Bali. Like many novels that feature lots of characters from different eras, it’s interesting to see how Ings draws the stories together.

I loved the description of distant lands and the characters were well-drawn. I
Paul Girdler
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a great read. As noted elsewhere, it has to be read quickly, but also carefully - it all comes together. It is a novel ostensibly about shipping and piracy, about global politics and the global economy, about capitalism and polar exploration, about weather and physics, but is is also at its deepest levels a novel about the human condition, tragedy and inhumanity. Some great characters are drawn here, in an intriguing and interlocking tale that spans the planet over the last century. Ulti ...more
Piper Mejia
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book just didn't grab me. The straight forward account where everything is explained and expected, with no one particular narrator did not help me to orientate to the purpose of the story. I think perhaps I was not the right audience.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked it especially the images of the countryside. I wasn't too fond of the ending because it seemed that it was so predictable and "tied up with a bow".
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
A brainy thriller with literary standards of style and characterization, action-packed and fascinating. Set in about a dozen countries, its plot spans almost a century. Though ambitious and largely successful in artistic terms, I'm not sure how it has done commercially; I think it deserves to be a bestseller. Many of the settings and a large number of the characters are Indian, and they are dealt with convincingly and respectfully — no curry-house comedy cut-outs here. A heavy salting of science ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
With many pages that were very immersive and really kept hooking me on the novel, Dead Water could have been as good as the superb The Weight of Numbers but it had 3 issues that prevented it:

- the structure is much less cohesive than there; yes there is a sort of threading together in the end and the "Dead Water" - deadly wastes - topic is weaved well, however the novel's shifts are not that smooth and the move from brilliant prose and interesting characters to more pedestrian stuff is noticeabl
Dec 08, 2011 rated it liked it
You have to read this book fast! You get dragged around the world and through times so quickly that it can be hard to remember where you last were when you put the book down. I had to keep flicking back to find previous characters and stories, I think the more savvy amoung readers can use their smart phones to keep track of characters - nice little twist adding a new dimension to reading.
As for the story(s), I liked the main plot and the running theme of "dead water". The meaning of dead water
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Brutal. Glittering. Feral. Many-leveled. Implacable. Simon Ings seems to be turning into a kind of basilisk version of David Mitchell: like Cloud Atlas, this is a story about the intersecting lines that connect lives and events across time and space, but instead being a story of hope and redemption, it is a story about capitalism, globalization, wreckage and waste. I first became hooked on Simon Ings when he was still a science fiction writer: Hotwire is one of the darkest and most hallucinatory ...more
Bernie Mojzes
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The blurb on the cover states, "displays a subtle and persistent power," and the novel which follows does not disappoint. Ings maintains a calm, almost detached tone throughout, which only adds to the power of the events as they unfold. The best analogy I've managed is "Alistair Cooke narrating the Bhopal Chemical Disaster as it unfolds" - clearly inadequate, so feel free to add your own.

There is a sense of disorientation while reading Dead Water, in that just as one gets a feel for what it is,
Tom Lloyd
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Didn't finish, couldn't care enough to put the effort in.

I got about two hundred pages in and couldn't see any clear thread between the arctic story and the Indian one bar a few implausible planted hints. It probably all came together towards the end in some intricate and clever fashion, but I'd found myself not caring about either stories or characters, seeing very little of the plot promised by the cover copy and profoundly irritated by the tiny font use in the book - which is the publishers'
Alex Rogers
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Amazing book - truly incredible writer. I only took off one star because he made me feel stupid - I struggled to tie together all the strands and implications woven into this intricate series of linked stories. Tremendous imagination, each story so vividly written they come to life, and the whiff of mystical always had me wondering if I'm imagining things or is the author really implying what I think he is? Confusing, compelling, and very enjoyable. Just wished I was a bit smarter.
John Adams
Dec 19, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel without a genre. The pacing is too slow to be a thriller, the plotting is too convoluted for a horror novel, there's too much gore for an artsy prose exercise, and the science fiction/spiritual element is tertiary and not grounded in a larger system. All that would be forgivable if the book were fun and interesting (as in David Mitchell at his best), but sadly, I did not find it to be so.
Aug 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Sadly disappointing. Clearly not enough people read the brilliant _The Weight of Numbers_, which should have collected a majority of awards, but in this Hairy Potter world it was never even nominated…but with this next novel Ings stays within the same template as the masterful ‘Weight’, which seems forced. Not to mention difficult to pull off.

Worth a read, and others may enjoy this more than ‘Weight’, but it didn’t work nearly as well for me.
Elias Azzi
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-reads
I honestly got lost in this book, as in literally the plot was all over the place. However, when I was able to keep up with the book, it was a good read. Still, the way the stories are supposed to connect to the 'Dead Water' theory just didn't seem to be mentioned or even fit in, it just floated around as a loose notion.
Michelle Smith
Mar 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Totally torn with this one. On the one hand, cleverly written, certainly an intelligent book; on the other, a very obfuscated plot. I have a feeling this one will continue to percolate in my brain for the next few days.
Stephen Barr
Jan 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it...which was very frustrating. The 'magic' just didn't work at all for me...and got in the way so much I just couldn't continue with the book. Incongruous and I'm the end, terminal, for my reading.
Rachel Nowakowski
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really liked this, is was amazingly complicated and moved from story to story but had great links that all tied up in the end. as quite sad at times due to its portrayal of real cruelty that exists in the world. Would recommend to people who like tongue twisters!
James Robinson
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Quarter of the way through it felt like it was going nowhere. Three quarters of the way through it was still going nowhere, so I stopped.
Chris Henden
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Surprised me when it switched abruptly from the exotic worlds of Oman, or India, to Gabalfa in Cardiff.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Disappointing given the reviews I had read. Found it too disjointed, a bit confusing.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
average thriller
Sandy Nelson
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Trent Goodwin
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Dan Hutson
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Mikhail Kiryazov
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I began by writing science fiction stories, novels and films, before widening my brief to explore perception (The Eye: A Natural History), 20th-century radical politics (The Weight of Numbers), the shipping system (Dead Water) and augmented reality (Wolves). A spot of mid-career ghost-writing once had me being rescued from a tree by Ben (of Ben & Jerry's) in the middle of a hurricane. Back home I ...more

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