Dystopic Directives, Deceit and Double-Crosses.
“You human, you are the problem. A miserable, short life is your just reward for your species treatment of this planet.”
The world has died, murdered by humanity and the Temple never lets those who still live on the Mother, crushed physically and psychologically into the crowded Plena to forget that and forget the guilt debt they owe to Her. Valko Gangleri is a Moderator, a sort of policeman but more along the lines of Judge Dredd, harsh, callous and uncaring – unless he is under the influence of the NOTT drug that unlocks his empathy. When a sequence of murders and the subsequent investigations lead Valko to some disturbing discoveries about himself, the phrase ‘all is not what it seems’ springs to mind in huge neon letters.
This is a dystopian sci-fi set in a post-apocalyptic world – but one in which there seem to have been numerous causes of the final apocalyptic event. It has all the classic hallmarks of the genre – enclosed humanity, uninhabitable world, oppression by a faceless elite that dominate all aspects of life. It also has something unique which only clicks in half-way through the book and from then on expands into strange and unpredictable pathways. Imagine Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ meeting ‘Logan’s Run’ and you have a good idea of what to expect.
‘The wind had become Death’s steed: on it rode humanity’s suicide machines, now registering at one part per billion.’
The strength of this book is in its worldbuilding. You get the impression that the author walked the streets and breathed the polluted air himself, making notes and mapping as he went. It is that good. However, sometimes it is also a bit overwhelming and it slows the opening of the book to a very turgid pace. There are frequent digressions to explain how something came about, which are usually handled well, but occasionally the reader is left with a sense of being lectured by an unseen authorial voice.
The characters are very well drawn and engaging, especially Valko and the transformation of his personality is crafted impeccably. The supporting cast is well written too, though I did feel Davidson in his deeds did not live up to what we were continually being told about the man. The pace is never really full on action speed, even in the tensest moment and sometimes slipped to slow.
“Oshi, there have been too many lies – too much manipulation of both our minds.”
For me, the book was too long – and it is a long book. The story doesn’t really get into ‘meaningful’ until the half-way mark. Before that, there is an excessive – possibly obsessive – amount of set-up and world-building IMO. The story itself could have been better told in fewer words, IMO. Although I enjoyed the reading, I will admit to wanting to skip forwards quite often and undoubtedly I wound up skimming over parts where the plot was not being progressed, excessive flashbacks, which added nothing much I could find of value, for example.
Overall I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it to anyone who loves detailed world-building and a different twist to the dystopian sci-fi genre.
Review by E.M. Swift-Hook. Mercury's Son is written by Luke E.T. Hindmarsh.