I don’t often say this, but this is a novel has a plot with real originality, although that is obviously only based on my own mix of ‘have read’. Yes, even with the millions of English language books pouring out of a million authors liberated from the stranglehold of the old literary mafia, I feel that Dahl has delivered some brand new plot details. She delivers a fresh feeling story backed by an interestingly individualistic and totally weird look at the psychology of survival and its darkest reflections.
This is a well written first person narrative that manages to take science fiction video game scenarios on-board and make them momentarily believable. For me, Dahl actually manages the art of suspending plausibility. I was particularly drawn in by her alien environment, which was painted with such broad and yet convincing brush strokes.
The last chapters perhaps lost its way a little as the main characters ‘died’ a little too often, but the hanging punchline is brilliantly held, leaving one to fully imagine the end without it ever being actually delivered. This is science fiction delivered in the very gory way central to a lot of our video game influenced age, but with all sorts of throwbacks to the speculative thinking of for example, TV science fiction writer Terry Nation, or the classic contemporary freshness in the plots of Mary Shelley and Wyndham. Clearly Dahl is highly influenced by a host of previous writers and the directions of modern science, as we all are, but there is also just a glimpse of a genuinely new idea or two. Well, that is my view. I’m sure that some will argue that I simply haven’t read enough, that everything can be found elsewhere. But if any human is capable of truly original thought then Dahl would be amongst my nominees.
I didn’t like this book, as it contains far too much gratuitous violence for me; but as one of the flood of liberated writers struggling to add something new, I certainly appreciate what Dahl has delivered. I haven’t the least doubt about giving the book all five of those ridiculously vacuous stars.