Sunday, 16 December 2018

Review: String City

String City String City by Graham Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although the main character of this book is a noir detective, it avoids the hopeless alienation of true noir in favour of something more noblebright.

It's very high-concept. A city at the intersection of a number of cosmic strings (as in string theory), inhabited by gods, near-gods, and monsters from various pantheons, plus ordinary people (who don't fare particularly well). This sets the scene for a story full of wonder, conflict, people punching above their weight, loss, destruction, and ultimate triumph.

If there was one thing that irritated me about it, it was that the detective had a near-endless set of devices to use to solve his problems, very few of which were foreshadowed, so it ended up being a little bit Felix the Cat. (In fact, his coat, which he turns inside out a varying number of times to transform it into whatever will be the most appropriate or useful garment for the situation, is strongly reminiscent of Felix's magic bag.) However, at least one of them had a limited number of uses, and it was hinted that the use of them carried a price, though the price never quite seemed to eventuate.

I was pleased that the detective's secretary got to be a character, rather than just a functionary, with a backstory and an arc, though she did fall into the Damsel in Distress trope at one point. There were several other female characters who had agency and weight, though I wasn't a big fan of the femme fatale or of the detective's interaction with her.

All in all, more enjoyable than not, and it ended better than I'd feared, though I'd have to be in the right mood to read a sequel.

I received a review copy via Netgalley.

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