Plot: The world as we know it has come to an end. Thoughts become reality and that reality is monsters and chaos. The world is not beyond saving though and that is precisely what a group of people set out to do. But in order to accomplish their mission, they must first of all look into their past.
Following the adventures of one man as he finds his place in the world, makes something of his life and then attempts to save the day, Gone-Away World questions reality. Everything we thought to be real can twist on its head without warning.
Quote: Master Wu screws up one eye and opens the other very wide. He crooks his hands and lisps. This is presumably an appropriate face for imparting Secrets.
Opinion: I loved this book. Harkaway blends effortlessly tension and humour. Even when the world is in the process of being destroyed, he has the ability to slip in a line that will literally have you laughing out loud. Even reading the lines out of context brings a smile to your face. Although it is a book about the end of the world, it doesn’t read that way due to the enjoyment slipped into each page.
His characters are rounded and well developed. All of them are likeable. Even the ones the main characters do not like are presented with charm and wit. The narrator is a complex and real individual, with failures, hopes and dreams like the rest of us. His development is the most profound in the book, which only leads to the twists and turns on the way being more powerful. Harkaway knows how to write his characters – and our engagement with those characters is what turns a potentially confusing book into a brilliant story.
The majority of the book is written in the past with events finally catching up with themselves before the last quarter moves things on. It works. There is no jumping around in the timeline; it goes back to the beginning and it progresses forward. The writing style is fluent though. When events start moving forward rather than catching up, there is no sudden change or jolt to distract you from your reading. The tense subtly shifts and takes you with it.
The plot itself is genius. Trying to describe it is hard – it makes no sense. While reading, it is clear in your mind. You know where you are and what is happening at all times, despite the absurdity of the situation. The characters reactions mirror your own. Discovering things at the same pace as the characters means any confusion is subsequently cleared up through dialogue and action taking place in the book itself. You know what is happening as much as they do – you are along for the ride too.
The only reason it was not given 5/5 was there were a few pages where I had no idea what was going on. Admittedly neither did the character. But the sudden jolt from knowing to being confused distanced me from the book for a chapter or so until things began to move forward again.
Definitely a recommendation for anyone interested in fantasy novels.