Written by: Chris Beckett
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 287 (Mass Market Paperback)
The premise: this is just one of those books I have trouble summarizing, so here's what Barnes & Noble.com has to say, which is also the back-cover blurb: Illyria is a scientific utopia, an enclave of logic and reason founded off the Greek coast in the mid-21st century as a refuge from the Reaction, a wave of religious fundamentalism sweeping the planet. Yet to George Simling, first generation son of a former geneticist who was left emotionally and psychically crippled by the persecution she encountered in her native Chicago, science-dominated Illyria is becoming as closed-minded and stifling as the religion-dominated world outside...
Wish I'd Borrowed It: while I still stand by my claim that this book has the potential to be a classic--or at least, it's author has the potential to pen one--I had too many problems with it to truly embrace the book as a whole. The stuff that bothered me far outweighs the stuff that didn't, though that won't stop me from trying Beckett's work in the future, perhaps short stories (a print anthology, please) since I hear so much good stuff about them, and it'd allow me to see what kind of variety there is to his work when I have several shorts to compare side to side. This book is . . . interesting. Worth reading for how it treats virtual reality and people's addiction to it, but that's no the point of the book. No, the point of the book is ultimately the battle between science and religion, and what happens when the countries and peoples of this world take definitive, black-or-white sides. By the end, though, I could care less for the main character (I border on hating the guy, actually, though that may have been the author's intent), and by the end, I'm not sure what the message is that Beckett wants the reader to walk away with. The book's gotten very positive reviews on Amazon, but I feel the world-building is weak, and the characterization alone is something that really hinders the overall enjoyment of the book. It's one of the most passive first-person voices I've read, and if anything is strong in this book, it's the discussion of science versus religion, and truly, that's what it is: a discussion. Various viewpoints and a character's search for truth. Worth reading through the end, despite the fact I wish I could take a red pen to the text, but after it's all said and done, I wish I'd found this sucker in the library.
Review style: Two sections: Likes and Dislikes, with MASSIVE SPOILERS. Also, actual citations from the text (you know you're in trouble when I actually QUOTE FROM THE TEXT). So, if you want the full review (again, SPOILER WARNING), feel free to hop over to my LJ to check it out. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)
REVIEW: Chris Beckett's THE HOLY MACHINE
Happy Reading! :)