Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book: The last albatross - Ian Irvine

For a long time I've been listing each book I read, way down in the sidebar on the right hand side of my blog. I know that if you subscribe to my RSS feed you would never see these updates; even those who visit the blog might not realise or remember they're there.

So I thought I might start posting a few thoughts. They won't be polished reviews. I will avoid spoilers - though I'd love to hear from you if you've read the same book - maybe we can have a discussion in the comments.

I've just finished reading The last albatross, the first in a trilogy of ecological thrillers by Australian author Ian Irvine (click on eco-thrillers for this series).

I didn't find any of the characters very likeable or sympathetic, and sometimes the main people were a bit wooden and inconsistent. In spite of this, they did grow and change through the novel which helped to keep my interest.

All of the names were fairly unusual, just enough to notice. Perhaps it's just a preference of the author, but given this is a book published in 2000 and set in 2010, recognisably in Sydney, this was just a bit strange.

It was interesting reading this in 2009 when it's set in quite a different version of 2010 than we are about to head into. I guess he would have been writing in the late 90's. This is an Australia where everyone drives fuel cell cars and all are somewhat inefficiently entangled in the internet - 'HouseNet' is useless or worse: the fridge can't be opened when the system shuts down, and 'SchoolNet' is forever going offline and giving teachers more to whine about (I found Jemma very whiny). The internet and reality TV offer even greater levels of depravity than our versions. Despite the 'net having pervaded every day life to an even greater extent, it is mostly shown as a one-way flow of information, with people turning on 'NetNewsLive' like they would turn on the TV.

The story was fast-moving, intricate and well constructed. It certainly kept my interest in spite of not being very into the characters, and I'm keen to read the next one. Irvine struck a good balance between telling a coherent, complete story, and setting up the rest of the trilogy.


Donna Lee said...

I always think it's interesting to read books that were written in the recent past but are dated for today. The lack of things like cell phones is always weird, and the cars are always different. It's like science fiction from the 50's where they predicted flying cars.....

Olivia said...

Indeed. In the book the cell phones (or mobile phones as we call them) we called 'communicators' which sounded like something from star trek! I think he was probably just trying to reflect that they were internet/video devices.