Authority by Jeff VanderMeer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Honestly, I wanted to stay longer in Area X, not get relegated to an almost sterile administration building for most of the novel.
Control (the man, not the action) didn't even really begin to grow on me until well-past half-way mark. At least there were elements of spy-fiction, but in all honesty, the conflict in the novel was rather too light.
I know we're not supposed to have answers in this kind of novel. I don't really expect them. It's all about the journey and cultivating a sense of wonder as a reader, trying to figure out the rules for yourself, seeing if you can do any better than the poor characters actually having to live it. (So to speak.)
And yet, I had to wait until almost the very end to get that mere glance I was hoping for, and then it slipped beneath the water again.
Too little happened. Most of what teased me were the long conversations with Ghost Bird on the other side of an interrogation table, and I did look forward to each and every one of those, but it wasn't until Control had to leave the administration building that I started to gel with the novel, and that's a shame, because I actively started LIKING the novel at that point.
I'm partial to being thrown into the actual action, not just having a taste of squabbling coworkers making a hash of sending so many damn people into Area X.
If I were a more critical reader, not willing to give credit where credit is finally due, I might have said I didn't like this book. Most of it bored me.
Fortunately, I'm not a super critical reader. It did progress my understanding of Area X by way of the people on the outside, and even if they, also, are stumped, then at least they came by it honestly. Or dishonestly. Whatever. :)
Ghost Bird, even for being placed on a pedestal and turned into an Object Of Understanding by everyone else, still remained my favorite character in either novel.
Now, here's the tricky part: It's become painfully obvious to me that we're dealing with the themes of unconsciousness and Id (Annihilation) and consciousness and SuperEgo (Authority), both exploring the physical manifestation of the subconsciousness and how it rises out of the bog into consciousness. Annihilation was floating up, and Authority was sinking down. By extrapolation, Acceptance is going to be all about finding a workable balance, ending in EGO.
Of course, I'm already of the opinion that Ghost Bird already has a pretty good grasp on it, I'm just going to go out on a limb that the tale will be about someone else. Perhaps Control, but probably a third we haven't met.
Truly, the novel IS good if you analyze it. Too bad that it kinda fell flat in execution. Or perhaps that's my own SuperEgo being super critical because it knows, in a deeper sense, that super intellectualization is such a damn bore. :)
Am I right?
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