Saturday, December 1, 2012

Book Reveiw: Taking the Highway by M.H. Mead

Where to begin? Hmm, if you haven’t read Riding Fourth I suggest you do before reading this book (it’s free and short). It’s not necessary mind you, but acts like a primer to a subculture that is important in Taking the Highway. Let’s get the bad over with first, Papa Ravenpenny always says take your medicine before your sweets. Like the Caline Conspiracy I found the end coming at me way to fast (no pun intended, when you read the book you’ll understand). Now whether that is a consequence of the plot or simply how the author(s) write I don’t know. Hell, maybe it’s just me – when I emotionally invest in something I tend to want it to last as long a possible. It also features several new additions to the Detroit Next series but none of the old ones so no Aidra, no Morris, etc. Still the ‘rules’ are the same and so is the universe. I do not know if that qualifies as bad or not but I’m lumping it up here anyways.

Now, the good, and man oh man is it good. M.H Mead’s sublime Gemini team really delivers it this time. The plot is amazing, it is like some sort of triple spy pretending to be one thing while being yet another while secretly being a third. No, it’s not complicated or even contrived…I’d call it limited by human perception, and that is intentional. Mead presents a problem in unfiltered ‘human vision’ and lets you think what you want only to slowly give you the clues to realize all is not as it seems and then pulls the rug out from underneath you at the very end. It’s a beautiful roller-coaster full of loopdeeloops that leaves you wanting more even while you are breathless… I found all of the characters rather remarkably crafted but one thing I do want to call out is the relationship between Andre and his older brother Oliver. It is so believable that much of the time as I read the interactions between the two I imagined my older brother and I have these selfsame conversations (with different subjects of course). Mead has this gift for making dialogue come to life, which gives a realistic animus to her cast of characters that I have rarely found in literature. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I have compared the writing duo of Margaret Yang and Harry Campion to a modern-day version of William Gibson. I do not give this praise lightly, Gibson is one of my favorite authors of all time and Yang/Campion remind me of him quite a bit. This is not to say they are carbon copies of Gibson, far from it, they are very much their own entities but I can easily see Viker Morris Payne and PI Aidra Scott in the same universe as Gibson’s Case or Molly or even Stephenson’s Y.T. or Hiro. Despite the fact that I felt like I wanted more of the book I give it a full five out of five pennies. It is that damn good. I look forward to more from the binary brilliance of M.H. Mead.

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