Monday, March 31, 2008

The Somnambulist

[minor spoilers]

The Somnambulist, which came to me through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, is an ambitious, interesting, and atmospheric novel that tries too hard and risks becoming inaccessible to many readers. Author Jonathan Barnes infuses the book with tantalizing tidbits from literature, philosophy, and history, but some readers may spend more time worrying that they’ve missed something critical than they will enjoying the story. There are too many curiosities, such as a Frankenstein-esque resurrection, a linear-time-challenged man, and an unspecified method of brainwashing converts to a cult, that aren’t explored to any satisfying level. Ultimately, it’s difficult to draw conclusions about who did what and why, and who ended up where – for instance, I have two conflicting understandings of the final fate of the title character.

In addition, there are far more minor characters than there need to be, with redundant plot-functions and/or similar characteristics, making it difficult to care too much about anybody’s fate. The book’s opening was certainly intriguing, but after reaching the end, I don’t think my time reading this novel was particularly justified.

1 comment:

Ed Morris said...

Whew! Thanks for the review, I read about this someplace else and was thinking I might give it a go, but not now.