This unclassifiable debut from the son of legendary thriller author John le Carré is simultaneously a cautionary tale about the absurdity of war; a sardonic science fiction romp through Armageddon; a conspiracy-fueled mystery replete with ninjas, mimes and cannibal dogs; and a horrifying glimpse of a Lovecraftian near-future. "Go Away" bombs have erased entire sections of reality from the face of the Earth. A nameless soldier and his heroic best friend witness firsthand the unimaginable aftermath outside the Livable Zone, finding that the world has "unraveled" and is home to an assortment of nightmarish mutations. With the fate of humankind in the balance, the pair become involved in an unlikely and potentially catastrophic love triangle. Readers who prefer linear, conventional plotlines may find Harkaway overly verbose and frustratingly tangential, but those intrigued by works that blur genre boundaries will find this wildly original hybrid a challenging and entertaining entry in the post-apocalyptic canon. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Harkaway has created a monster. Although his debut has been compared to the work of Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut, this epic novel shares with them only the elements of war, satire, and irony (and a few references to Vonnegut's line, "And so it goes..."). This story is more concerned with the fantastical and supernatural underpinnings of war in a futuristic, technologically superior world in which there's a new weapon that wipes out enemies by making them "go away." Many bad side effects ensue, and an eclectic team of soldiers-turned-action heroes is hired to fix them. It's a futuristic doomsday tale of sorts, but it's also the story of an average guy, Gonzo, who must save both the world and a part of himself (literally) several times. The first part is a bit confusing without the later context. However, its humorous parts, mostly in the form of tangents and its accounts of sentimentality among manly men, are a lot of fun to read. Prepare for a multifaceted ride, a mixture of Apocalypse Now and Fight Club . Recommended only for larger public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/08.]-Stephen Morrow, Athens, OH
Fantasy meets apocalypse meets allegory meets bildungsroman in an exuberant, bulging first novel by John le Carre's son. Set in a semi-recognizable world (Cuba is admitted into the United Kingdom), at some undated point in the future, and narrated by a nameless hero with no apparent family but a gift for martial arts and a best friend named Gonzo Lubitsch, Harkaway's debut blends aspects of existing culture (Brazil, Catch-22, The Karate Kid) into the story. In love with names, riffs, stories and language, this is a good-natured, underedited, serio-comic take on war, ecology, capitalism and human nature, loosely gathered around the development of its central character, who is semi-adopted by the Lubitsches, wins a place at university, is captured and threatened for associating with subversives, struggles to find work and eventually joins a special-forces unit, which is how he comes to be fighting in Addeh Katir (a lush, faraway place nonetheless reminiscent of Iraq) when the Go Away Bombs start to fall, decimating the population. They are quickly followed by something worse, something that unleashes monsters from the human imagination. A kind of order is restored via the Jorgmund Pipe, which purifies the air and allows communities to develop and for which our hero and his friends work as a troubleshooting crew. But then Gonzo invades the narrator's marriage and shoots him, leading to a terrible revelation and a new world order. Excessive and garrulous, this is nevertheless something of a tour de force, energized by set pieces, many of them involving fights, and sustained by inexhaustible imagination. Harkaway displays talent with his big, butch, bravura first book, if not yet the abilityto distinguish the wood from the trees. First Printing of 60,000
A flat-out ferociously good novel.... Reads like a surrealist smashup of Pynchon and Pratchett, Vonnegut and Heller.”
“Harkaway delivers plenty of action and surprises.... Likely to be this season’s major conversation-starter.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A gripping, satirical, postapocalyptic war epic populated with mimes, ninjas, bureaucrats, chimera, and gun-toting nerds.”
"Very funny and hugely entertaining. . . . And brilliant. Read it."
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Bewilders, amazes, entertains. . . . a Catch-22 for the 21st century. . . . a work of extraordinary imagination and charisma. . . genius"
—The New York Observer
"Leaves the reader gasping for both adjectives and description. It's a powerful and accomplished first novel that weaves elements of romance, mystery, SF/F and yes thriller together in a way that leaves no doubt that the master storyteller gene really is something that can be passed along."
"Vivid and exciting. Harkaway manages to meld a vision of war more germane to today's world, and take it to its most horrifying, apocalyptic conclusion."
—Charleston City Paper