25 March 2014 2 Comments
Author: Iain Banks
Summary: Hisako Onoda, world famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker bound through the Panama Canal. By the end of her journey she had ignited one soldier with an oxy-acetylene torch, stabbed another through the chest with the spike of her cello, clobbered a guard with the butt of a rifle and raked terrorists with machine-gun fire before frazzling the survivors in an oil-covered sea.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2.5/5
Review: Having really enjoyed other books by Banks, and loving the sound of that summary, i was very surprised by how much i didn’t like this book.
It was slow. The story flits between Hisako’s life; childhood, adolescence and adulthood, and her present day; stuck on a ship in the Panama Canal during a war-like international crisis. My interest in both halves of the book varied wildly, both having some really interesting and really, really dull parts.
The first half of the book felt like a history lesson. Hisako’s history of how she became a cello player, and the history of Panama Canal. These weren’t necessarily uninteresting, but they weren’t exactly the thrilling, entertaining read i was hoping for.
The second half of the book is, to put it plainly, a rape-revenge. And, to put it honestly, not the best one. Was it satisfying to read about Hisako stalking down these men and murdering them without a second thought? Yes. Was it well written? Did it flow well, keep me entertained and want to keep reading? Unfortunately, no.
The synopsis covers the best bits, but i’d love to see the same synopsis on the back of a Christopher Brookmyre book. He’d write the same action, only with less rape and more entertainment.
The third aspect of the book, as the title might suggest, was Hisako’s dreams. And they were the most distracting for me. They could go on for pages, connect to nothing and i just found them boring.
Good elements, unfortunately poorly crafted. I think maybe he was trying too hard to get something more meaningful than there was from this story. The Wasp Factory, this is not.