Saturday, 14 January 2012

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith

Book: Only Forward 

Author: Michael Marshall Smith

Stats:  approx 120k words, Published in 1994, Sci Fi

Summary:  I was recommended this book by a friend.  Said friend's exact words were, "it changed my life."  This particularly friend, whilst sometimes has been known to brief bouts of fangirlish excitement, is not typically the kind of person to say such a thing.  So that was a recommendation which I could hardly ignore. 

The truth is that once you've become an adult, few books can change your life.  When you're child a book can really change you, it can affect your entire outlook on the world, it can help to shape the person you're going to become.  As an adult, it becomes rarer that a book can quite have that effect, because the world has already shaped most of who you are and most of us to stubborn to change. 

There are few books that I have read as an adult which have actually changed my view on the world.  There are books which I have read that I liked and ones which I love to the core, which I will read over and over and count amongst my favourites, but few that actually changed me.

Harry Potter had a big impact, not because of the story, but because of the fandom, being a part of that fandom has done many wonderful things for me and I'll always be grateful to it for that, but I don't count it as one that changed me.  In fact the only one which I recall that did was 1984 by George Orwell, and a contributing factor to that may be that I've always been a bit paranoid about zombies and monsters, but it gave me something else entirely to worry about. 

Only Forward, may have just changed my life.  I know that sounds like a hard sell on a book I just happened to enjoy and only finished reading two hours ago, but I'm totally serious.  Only Forward, may have just changed my life.

I'm still in the midst of that afterglow you get when you know you've just seen something brilliant, something that you suddenly want everyone you know to know about. 

The surface is that this is a story about a guy called Stark.  Stark is funny, hilarious in fact, the narrative is from his 1st person and he directly addresses the audience and somehow manages to instantly have you on his side.  He solves problems in a futuristic place called The City, The City is divided into Neighbourhoods, like Colour Neighbourhood for people who dig colours, The Action Center Neighbourhood for people who like to be Doing Things and Cat Neighbourhood for cats. 

Stark guides us through Neighbourhoods and his life as he takes on a job to find a missing person, a person who needs to be found before it's too late. 

The characters are real and alive, the story is compelling, the narrative is vivid and complex and between the excitement of the plot and the hilarity of the jokes, there are times where I had to close the book for a few minutes and just enjoy thinking about the parts I'd just read because they spoke to me in a way that nothing else has come even close to in a long time. 

Even if the book isn't going to change your life, it's a really enjoyable read.  I highly recommend it and I really hope that you get half the enjoyment I did out of it.

Rating:  10 out of 10

1 comment:

  1. A single book may not change your entire life, but I think in aggregate there's something lifechanging about absorbing so many ideas and viewpoints. It kind of makes you look at the world in ways you wouldn't have thought to on your own. It allows you to change your own view on your life, and it makes things...magical, right?

    Anyway, great post. I may just have to read this book, now. Confound it. ;)