Thursday, 1 March 2012
Spire by Aaron Safronoff
This Science-Fiction/Dystopian novel is set in a place ruled by the Collective- an omnipotent, authoritarian but mostly invisible force. In a world consumed with improving humanity via Genetic Enhancement, a drug- an extreme performance enhancer- is introduced whose effect is impossible to predict, but whose potential seems limitless. The story centres on Joshua, an unsuspecting test subject, but also moves between stories involving the drug's creator; a Collective Defector and a Collective Leader Himself.
For me, I think the first thing to point out is that the parallel stories didn't always seem to work. As I sometimes find with this way of writing, I only like one particular storyline and the others should all be supplementary to that storyline and take mostly a back-seat. I never actually lost interest in the other stories, but I often felt detached from them; reading them mostly because I would return to the story I liked (Joshua's). So I tip my hat at Safronoff for not losing my attention, but I want to say that it worked in way that could have easily failed.
The plot of the story isn't a bad one, though it was occasionally clichéd. The start was kind of difficult for me because I really hate being thrown head first into a story and having absolutely no idea what was going on. It starts with Joshua- a drug user- talking about coming down from a high and how he felt about it. I get that, at least theoretically. It makes sense as a way to say how he thinks, a bit about his life and it's mildly interesting. But then I started to get lost about what was going on. I think he bought drugs, and I think he is somewhat of an expert in the field in terms of identifying them, but that is the bare minimum of what I should know. Nothing else sticks out from the start except those plot points.
It wasn't until the intrigue was introduced that I was, for lack of better word, intrigued by the story. The enhancements people had (particularly Eve) were incredible to see and weren't so far-fetched that you couldn't accept them. I'm not a huge Sci-Fi reader, but this felt more like Urban Fantasy to me which I really enjoyed considering it was still in the realms of believability. The chemical enhancement was much more fantastical, but I loved it for that. It was the kind of thing that a film would get wrong every time because your imagination plays such a huge and incredibly powerful part in making the moment as powerful and awe-inspiring as it was. In some ways I would say the book was worth reading for the times when the enhancer was used and when the higher end GEaRs (the genetic enhancers...sorry, I can't remember and I didn't mark the actual phrase!) was put on show. Technology and the advances we have made, are making and could make astound me and interest me to equal degrees.
There were things that weren't great in the book: two of which I've mentioned. Other things are just niggles i.e. things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but annoyed me anyway. Sometimes it seemed the tone was off for what was happening, or that the writing was making me more confused and the story less understandable. There was also that cliché issue, and the feeling that not everything felt entirely new. I don't want to say he's a plagiarist: he isn't! I've been emotionally up and down this and it probably made me more temperamental whilst reading.
So it was good book, and I definitely wouldn't overlook it. But, in my mind, it's a Science Fiction more than a dystopia and one should approach with that in mind; as well as with the expectation to feel a bit lost on a number of occasions. And if you're the kind of reader who hates that, you have been warned.