Friday, 16 September 2011

Dark Shades of Cyberpunk: My Review of Shadow of a Dead Star

Book Review of Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean:


Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean is grungy, slightly nihilistic, fabulously enigmatic cyberpunk at its best, painted in the hues fashioned by Philip K. Dick. The world inside the pages is screaming neon, ad driven, nanotech chic laid over top a seedy underbelly of dissipation.

The novel begins with Agent Thomas Walken investigating the arrival of contraband tech into the futuristic city of Seattle, just another corrupt excess imported from a place called Wonderland. But this routine bust turns into a something else, a blood-soaked conspiracy that turns Walken into a fugitive looking for elusive answers to a very sinister problem.

The author knows how to build a futuristic world, and some of the best passages in the book are the way he describes the landscape and surroundings in which the characters live and breathe; he vividly creates a Seattle fallen through a cyber-tech rabbit hole. And the inhabitants that dwell among the distorted spires are brought to life with equal skill, showing a darker side of humanity, with their flaws and self-interest on display. Even the protagonist has a murky, bitter side that unfolds as he plummets into the mystery he is trying to unravel.

It is that mystery that is at the center of a well-written, complex, multi-layered plot that peels away with suspense and tension, drawing the reader ever further into its web. I thought I knew where the book was headed until the finale took a sudden turn, morphing from the body of the story, and twisting everything that went before into an enigmatic question. While I suspect some readers may find the conclusion disconcerting, I thought it was an interesting and bold choice. It may not have been the ending I wanted as a reader, but I think it fit with the overall tone of the book and it does leave you thinking.

Shadow of a Dead Star is a fascinating book, and a definite recommend.

Michael Shean's Website:  http://michael-shean.com/wordpress/

2 comments:

Kalipha Linden said...

Wonderful, thoughtful review - and always nice when they're so positive to boot! Thank you, Messer Stewart. I shall have to ensure the sequel makes its way to you in a few months ;)

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A. F. Stewart said...

I'd be happy to review the sequel.

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