August 15, 2012 by Mark B
Yes, a book review. I’m branching out. Hush.
Being of a Kindle disposition, I am now up to a solid 2-3 books a week, many of which are utter beans thanks to Amazon’s ropey recommendation system and over-reliance on the kind of people who review books to gauge popularity (<—– irony).
Three Feet of Sky, thankfully, is not one of those books.
I stumbled upon the novel almost completely by accident, trawling the depths of the fiction department until I found something with a vaguely entertaining title and/or premise and/or under 2 quid.
Three Feet of Sky, thankfully, is one of those books.
The story centres around a depressive recovering drunk called Adam Eden, which allows for a number of shameless puns from the author. Always a plus. To avoid embarrassing himself in a Portsmouth pub, Adam inadvertently chooses death, which occurs around page 10.
It then transpires that death is just the beginning for Adam Eden, which is good because it would have been an extremely short book were that the case. After a brief and painful purgatory session, Adam arrives in an artificially created afterlife thousands of years in the future where the essences of past souls are resurrected and auctioned, to be sold into Environments (viros), where they will live out an immortal existence in recreations of the physical optimum of their previous bodies. With me?
In an attempt to avoid key spoilers I’ll leave the detail at that. Suffice to say we’re taken on a bit of an adventure ride encompassing serial killers, nudity, glam rock, an in-depth knowledge of fragrances and possibly the most bizarre form of future prediction it’s possible to dream up.
The novel’s key strength lies in the style. There are parts that are ludicrous, parts that are fantastical, parts that are unbelievably gory, yet it all seems…grounded. Where a lot of sci-fi (loose term) loses out by getting too far away from the reader, Three Feet of Sky has a wonderful knack of staying within the realms of plausibility, no matter how implausible the situation being described is. Another paradoxical plus is the book’s ability to blend heavy topics – death, murder, resurrection, chronic masturbation, the list is endless – with a light touch. Nothing is over-elaborate, and it gives the text a great flow. Characters are just formed enough for you to have a stake in what happens to them, but not painted out in full minutiae which helps the whole thing nicely. Oh yes, it’s also got a few moments of comedy gold in it too, as well as the aforementioned shit puns which are actually a bonus for me.
So nicely, in fact, that I ploughed through all 250 pages in about five hours.
Just one thing, it’s probably not one for the ultra-squeamish. The violence is more cartoon than Khartoum, but you are warned.
To sum up, Three Feet of Sky is much like a goat’s cheese and pomegranate salad. It’s light yet satisfying, surprising and a tiny bit surreal. You won’t be sure if you’ll like it, but once you get stuck into it you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.
Hey, that actually worked!
Henceforth I will be rating books based on which foodstuff they are most like.
Three Feet of Sky food comparison rating: Goat’s cheese and pomegranate salad (with balsamic dressing for a bit of a kick)