The Gone-Away World – Review

I enjoyed Harkaway’s brick of a novel. For anyone who has read Catch-22, it is clear that this is a descendant of it, a relative somewhat further down the family tree on some outlying branch but still firmly entrenched from Heller’s side of the trunk. The problem is that it’s at least 50 pages too long,  Another problem is that the first half the book is rather slow. Considering what it does, I’m just not sure it’s needed, which deals directly with the first problem. If it’s not needed, cut it.

It’s a curious novel. Something could clearly be done with the duality of nature, considering the story arc and several of the story components. But nothing is done with it. In fact, a story arc during with the literal duality is introduced is neatly (and abruptly) tossed aside.

In fact, the way the novel almost purposefully skirts the philosophical/moral/every day questions of its central plot device, as if Harkaway had no desire to explore things beyond writing a page turner.

And maybe he didn’t. And that’s okay. And it’s still a good, fun, quick read. But, still, you feel you are lacking something when you’re done with the novel. You are left with many MANY questions regarding how the characters carried on after the events in the story, how the crisis changed Gonzo (one of the central characters), how the world and what that says about the people remaking it.

Will you be able to guess many (all?) of the turning points in the plot? Likely, yes. You will know what characters will come back later, what characters are good or evil, and who will prevail.   And you will be left wanting to know more about several situations while not needing to know half of what you’re given about other situations. But it’s still a fun read.

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