Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Fantasy / Steampunk / Science Fiction|
|Release Date:||March 20, 2012|
I am generally not prone to unmitigated and spontaneous squeeing except on rare occasions or when presented with almost anything that may be described as “adorable.” Since “adorable” is what I use to describe baby octopi and itty bitty corn snakes as well as my chinchilla, you can take that as you will. Nevertheless, I was in a major tizzy of anticipation over this book. Quite possibly my biggest book tizzy of the year.
Angelmaker centers around one Joe Spork who in addition to having an awesome name to start with, also has his father’s legacy of crookery to live down as well. While trying to get by as a clock and antique repairman, he is given an unusual piece with some minor connections to his respectable grandfather. Things take a rather remarkable turn for the worse, the secretive, the extremely dangerous, and the strange, shortly thereafter.
I seriously enjoyed the style of writing. Since it’s all written in the present tense, there is a certain sense of immediacy to it, but strangely, when the story was focusing on Joe being quiet and contemplative the prose managed to mirror that without an inadvertent feeling of urgency attached to it. It was a joy to read through. There’s a lot more focus on how characters perceive the things and people around them instead of just what they look like. The descriptions can be as hilarious as they are evocative. I found the theme running through the book particularly relevant given how many people have to cheat “the rules” in some way to get by and many reasons that we do so, both good and bad.
Actually, I ended up with only a fuzzy idea of what some of the characters looked like, but I don’t care because they were entirely awesome. Joe Spork’s transformation and realizations through the novel matched up well with the action line of the story and yet left plenty of time at the end for a thoroughly satisfying and delightful conclusion after all the messes had been mopped up Prohibition style. I really really enjoy how the story is pieced together into an ever accelerating crescendo with a free fall and landing at the end.
While Joe Spork becomes a better and better character as the novel progresses, then there are the others. Or to use Angelmaker‘s phrasing, the Women of Consequence, Polly, Edie, Frankie and Dotty Catty. Especially Edie since she provides nearly all of the background for the psychopathic villain and the abstract reason for fighting Shem. And she’s a gun toting, super spy great-auntie who carries her explosives in Tupperware. Her flashback scenes initially felt a bit jarring in the beginning of the story, but as it progressed, those flashbacks became more and more important to Joe’s present and the awakening of the Apprehension engine. It’s through Edie’s relationship with Frankie that the small differences between the lady inventor and the nasty villain Shem become apparent to the reader. Then there’s Polly. Joe has to develop a lot as a character to get up to Polly’s level of awesome. She’s clever, determined and knows how to get what she wants out of people and doesn’t necessarily need to use large amounts of explosives or tommy guns to do so.
I loved this book and will read the covers off of it for a long time to come.