In a bland world of cubicles, a supernatural force known as contamination is gradually undermining reality. It has brought with it the ability to use magic by consuming fruits and vegetables, but their use is restricted in a society dominated by plant-users who masquerade as polygons. These polygons rule each city as a corporate fiefdom.
This is an odd but interesting hook for a novel. Unfortunately, the author fails to communicate anything of significance regarding the setting, the characters, or the overarching plot until the last tenth of the novel. The other ninety percent felt like an abstract painting produced solely for the author’s amusement that the reader is only begrudgingly allowed to experience. Poorly described scenes and wonky pacing compound the issue and leave the book an indecipherable mess.
Every work of fiction involves a dialogue between the author and the reader. An essential part of that dialogue is communicating enough information about the world to the reader so that she has a coherent lens to view the characters and events of the story through. This is particularly important in works of science fiction and fantasy because the world the reader is used to, and its basic rules, are usually different. Often, it’s difficult to balance informing the reader and leaving enough unknown to maintain a sense of intrigue.
In this case, the author created a wholly unique world and magic system that only shares some vague aesthetic similarities to the world we’re used to. Although not a problem in and of itself, a world like this requires a lot of heavy lifting to bring the reader up to speed, and the author utterly failed to do so. I spent the vast majority of the book frustrated because, until the end, I didn’t have a clue what was happening.
The novel is laced with hints, but they only make sense at the very end of the book. As far as plot and intrigue goes, this normally isn’t a problem, but in this case I had such a small amount of information about the world and characters to work with that I could not begin filling in the blanks. It could have been interesting instead of confounding, but until the final pages of the book I was left wondering what the point was.
The second issue with the book is the author’s use of description and language. Very few of the scenes have a firm base that allows the reader to visualize them. Instead, the author immediately leaps into soaring descriptions of the strangest parts of the scenes and more or less leaves the reader to make everything else up. Mundane objects and surroundings are generally mentioned, not described. This often causes the book to read more like a fever dream than a work of fiction.
Additionally, the author gets a bit lofty with his use of vocabulary and commits the literary sin of trying to be too clever. This is a matter of my personal taste, but I prefer the complexity in a novel to reside with the setting, plot, and characters, not the sentence structure and use of vocabulary.
My final issue is the pacing. The author jumps between a wide variety of character perspectives which, in a novel with as unusual a premise as this one, only serves to dilute and confuse things. Worse, every character leaps from crisis to crisis at a manufactured pace. I felt like many of the events in the novel happened because something was needed to fill the space, rather than because another chase scene, or another break in, or another catastrophe was necessary to the plot. There’s little time for the world to grow on the reader or the characters to become anything more than an odd collection of plot devices and contrived twists.
Ultimately, it feels like the author had a fascinating dream, rolled out of bed, scribbled it into a book, and then failed to render it in language the rest of us can understand. There was the potential for something unusual and fascinating, but it was not realized. This one is a 2/5.
If you want to check out a copy of the book, you can pick up one here.