Joe's Reviews > The Gone-Away World

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
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's review
Aug 14, 2010

really liked it

Harkaway's language and style at first seemed to me a bit put on; as if the book sought out to prove immediately to me how lively, inventive, passionate, and crafty with words it was. This perception faded before too very long, however, mainly because the book is incredibly lively, inventive, passionate, and crafty with words. Harkaway's talent and love for writing does at times feel almost unbridled -- unbridlable, even -- during certain descriptions that you almost expect to go on forever (not that you would mind, the descriptions being as nourishing and hilarious as they are) and certain digressions that at first seem unnecessary, but leave you wishing someone could tell you the rest of the story while you sat around daydreaming.

It's the kind of thing that makes you happy to be reading and proud that we have writers.

The story itself is freewheeling and unafraid to take risks. The gone-away world -- the result of a brand-new weapon that promises to make warfare and its aftermath as clean and simple as physics will allow -- is populated with monsters, both literal and corporate, characters with unlikely names, and ninjas, all of whom may or may not be conspiring against our narrator-hero. It bounces back and forth in time and geography, covering a great, sprawling amount of ground in both. It's the kind of tale I imagine my 11-year-old brain might have been capable of if it had had a lot of coffee and exposure to philosophy. It's very cinematic in nature, but, due to the aforementioned meditations on those intangible ponderables of minutiae, only truly possible in a book.

They'll probably make a movie out of it, anyway.

Though there are one or two game-changing narrative shifts, which would normally turn me off (when a story becomes self-aware without warning, I usually lose interest and tend to feel a bit betrayed) the charm and joy of the book paired with the unstoppable inertia of Harkaway's passionate storytelling make it all okay. Better than okay: Really great.

Of course, it is not perfect. Some things tied up too nicely, some things I didn't even think needed tying up. But, ultimately, I was left to feel that it ended simply because a book has to end; that Nick Harkaway would have kept writing it, and I would have kept reading it, and that, I guess, is about as good a compliment as you can give.
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