Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Flashback - Dan Simmons

Title: Flashback
Author: Dan Simmons
Genre: Science Fiction / Mystery
Published: 2011
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“Flashback” by Dan Simmons is a mystery novel set in the former United States now devastated by economic and political collapse. In this world we get to meet Nick Bottom, who like much of the country is addicted to a drug known as Flashback which lets people re-live earlier moments of their lives. Nick, a former police officer is plucked from his ruined life by a Japanese businessman who wants him to help solve the six year old murder of his son. However, before long it becomes clear that there is much more to this mystery that the murder itself and Nick discovers that his own deceased wife may have been involved in some manner.

When I picked up “Flashback” I was a bit worried as a fair few of the reviews were quite negative. Now that I have finished reading it I find myself in two minds, the actual mystery aspects were interesting and well written but the novel is also interspersed with some quite forceful right wing conservative views that I found a little bit hard to stomach. It isn’t that I can’t accept novels with dystopian societies created by authors with conservative leanings; I mean we get to see enough written by those with a leftish leaning. The problem is that we are almost forced to read vast amounts of padding just included to put forward a right wing viewpoint. At times I found that it actually affected the flow and feeling of the novel, especially when I found myself laughing incredulously at some of the points it was making.

As said above however, the mystery itself was enjoyable to follow and the twists were clever, thoughtful and unexpected. In addition, the dystopian world he has created is actually quite interesting when the anti-liberal rhetoric is reduced to the elements needed for the story itself I was quite impressed. The noir atmosphere that Simmons has created was very likeable and it was very obvious to me that no matter his political views, Simmons does know how to write.

The characters themselves where a bit of an enigma to me, it was hard to actually like any of them to the point that I am not sure I was bothered about who lived or died. The problem is that due to the dystopian environment, the people have been reduced to quite pathetic individuals. This helps to enhance and give real credence to the world Simmons has created but it did make it hard for me to actually engage with any character. In particular I found Nick’s son to be an incredibly unlikeable and annoying character to the point I actually didn’t want to read about him.

Overall, I did enjoy the well written and interesting story that was hidden amongst the political diatribe but getting to it at times could be a bit of work. Perhaps if I was a right wing conservative myself I would have more than loved the politicising but as someone with liberal leanings I came away from the book feeling like what could have been a great book had been let down badly.