I don’t have a happy relationship with cyberpunk or it is more correct to say that, so far, I’ve rarely been able to find books in this sub-genre of science fiction that were congenial to my own mind. I don’t think that is cyberpunk’s fault, which indeed addresses definitely tasty issues, but I imagine that I came across some wrong books. “Feersum Endjinn” is largely one of them, even if I haven’t completely disliked it.
I won’t talk about the plot in this review, as perhaps the most beautiful thing is to immerse themselves in the universe created by the author without knowing anything and be surprised by the wonders born from his imagination. I prefer to concentrate on how it is written and try to figure out why I didn’t like all of it.
I appreciated the choices made by Banks in the use of narrative techniques, but not quite how he put them into practice. Carrying forward separate plot lines of a story to rejoin them in the end is a challenge. Unfortunately, this prevents from providing the reader with a well-defined protagonist. Each of the main characters of the single plot lines has everything it takes to be appreciated by the reader, but the fragmented way in which they are presented makes the reader lose the special connection that is created between the latter and the protagonist or another main character to which they tend to become attached. This is accentuated by the fact that some of these characters have no depth, are almost evanescent. You have the constant feeling of reading separate stories, almost like different books set in the same universe, but not all at the same quality level. This tends to be confusing, especially at the beginning of the reading, but then things get better, especially if like me you are used to make parallel readings and are able to keep them alive at the same time in your mind.
Another element of difficulty is the choice to tell the story narrated by Bascule, one of these main characters, using phonetic spelling (I’m talking about a quarter of the entire novel). You need to hear his words in your mind to understand them. Surely it is a brave and very original choice. On the practical side, though, since I love to read also to improve the use of language (whether Italian or any other language in which I read) I’ve found it simply annoying and I’m sorry about that, because the character of Bascule is the best narrated throughout the novel, as he tells his story in first person and does so with considerable irony.
Beyond these aspects, as I said, the way in which the story is told wasn’t so bad at all. While reading you begin to see the connections between the various plot lines and a feeling of waiting is created for an ending that promises great revelations.
And here is the main problem. After a series of exciting action scenes all of a sudden you get to the ending that seems to appear from nowhere, without solving anything!
Unfortunately, a good book with an ending that does not work, as far as I’m concerned, stops being good. What a pity.
Feersum Endjinn on Amazon.com.