September 02, 2005

Something From the Nightside by Simon R. Green

guy walking down a darkened dirty street with a shockwave of bright light spreading in a ring around his head from his eyesThe setting of this book is so nearly identical to that of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (published in 1998 after the Gaiman-scripted BBC miniseries from 1996. Green's book is copyright 2003.) that I had a hard time not trying to fit Neverwhere into this book as backstory. It doesn't really work, though since the flavors of the two works are so different. Gaiman's is creepy in that humorous, insidious, fey way he does so well. Green's is more mean and malevolently dangerous.

For those who have read neither book and don't know what I'm on about, Nightside is about a private investigator, John Taylor, who gets a job that takes him back to the "Nightside", a place he has left behind and is reluctant to revisit. The nightside is a sort of parallel version of London existing alongside and within the one we know. Taylor is complete cliche wisecracking private detective and the style is verging on parody of the hard boiled noir trope. Green does okay making the style and voice of the book work on those terms, but the story feels rushed and arbitrary. The book's very clearly a setup for a series, but I didn't find the characters engaging enough to make me want to read farther. They got into sticky situations and then got out again through their special powers. They had relationships, but they didn't have any chemistry. In a similar way, the plot didn't feel like a story that was happening to people, it felt like a clumsily devised role playing game. Not my cup of tea.

Posted by jeffy at September 2, 2005 01:13 AM