This is one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. I spent the entire book fighting with myself about whether or not I should just put it down and move on (because on one hand it could be viewed as so dumb) or sit on the edge of my seat and read straight through till I was done (because I had to find out what happened!).
Before I tell you what it's about, I'll tell you a story to give you an idea of what the feeling is. I used to work for county mental health with a man who told me all kinds of stories about how he used to work for the CIA and they erased his brain, and he was part of some brainwashing scheme, etc. etc. Obviously needs medication, right? But on the drive home, I always wondered....."what if....?"
This book is like that. The main character suffers on the surface from "dissasociative fugue" which is where you have no memory of yourself or your life and you have a penchant for traveling and disappearing. (Yeah, it's a real - but rare - diagnosis). Then the author puts you in "his" head. What's really happening for people like this? We're giving it some name, but is it really something else? Something far more sinister and horrible?
This book is a romp of imagination. I can't even imagine how an author gets such an idea -- Steven Hall, if not a genius, is some kind of storyteller. Even if you think the concepts he pus forth are a bit "out there", read it just to be blown away by the whole paradigm shift....what we think of mentally ill people may not be what they are experiencing at all. I'm gonna think about this book for a long, long time.
I loved Bel Canto a few years ago, so thought I'd try Ann Patchett's new book. I didn't think this book was nearly the book that Bel Canto was, but it was still a good offering. Ann Patchett is a wonderful character author, building family relationships and portraying setting in such a real way. It's not the kind of book that will have you staying up late and tormenting yourself, but you'll be glad you read it.