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Posted January 6, 2011
Four simple words begin the narrative of M. Clifford's The Book: "Don't Read The Book".
What bibliophile can resist a challenge such as that? With a slight smirk I eagerly defied those words and plunged onward into the world of Holden Clifford - an intriguing dystopia in which environmental laws have banned paper and all literature and news media are conveniently conveyed to audiences via digital hand-held devices, portable and personal, each one called The Book. Holden, like his Salinger namesake, is a character caught existing rather than truly living and right from the start - as I, too, used a novel to shroud myself from a daily Chicago commute - I found myself empathizing with him and silently hoping for whatever would break him from his mundane life.
Holden's awakening comes in a Chicago bar called The Library, a tribute to the recycled book pages that wallpaper the venue. Upon seeing his name on an antique page from his favorite book, Holden's eyes are opened, not only to the powerful mystique of the printed word, but to the alterations from the original text that exist in the digital version he read his whole life.
M. Clifford's writing style is fresh and unique. The gripping story proves him to be an expert storyteller, beautifully weaving together political intrigue, suspenseful action, intricate relationships, and philosophical discussion. His descriptive techniques encourage the reader to engage with the writing - to enjoy the language as much as the story. It is a novel to be both savored and devoured. There are books which are meant to be read, respected, and reshelved, but The Book is one which lingers in my mind after the final pages have been viewed. It is a conversation starter as much as a story, drawing on themes such as the benefits and pitfalls of technology. Clifford's work sheds light on new thoughts and raises unanswerable questions but it could just be that the resolution is not nearly as valuable as the inquiry.
Posted January 30, 2011
No text was provided for this review.