If you’ve read any of my other reviews of Jeff Noon’s John Nyquist series, you already know that these books are really unlike anything else.
John Nyquist is a detective who takes on the oddest jobs – or the oddest jobs find him. In either case, Nyquist goes to the most unusual, mind-bending, confusing communities to bring a small sense of order to the disorder around him.
In two of my three previous reviews of Noon’s book, I compare Noon’s worlds with the worlds of Franz Kafka’s work. In case the comparisons weren’t obvious enough for some, Noon introduces Nyquist to a resident of this new world by the name of Gregor Samsa who is in the process of turning into a beetle. We’ll also meet Alice Liddell and Mr. Hyde. If you don’t know who any of these people are, you can just skip this review and this book.
The locations have been every bit as much a character as the people in Noon’s books and that is still true here. Nyquist is in the city of Delirium and in the center of Delirium is a town called Escher. (“That’s right. Escher is a town within Delirium.”)
Nyquist’s quest here is to help pop movie star Vince Craven. Craven has lost his image. Doesn’t quite make sense? Yeah, that’s a Jeff Noon book. Trust the author – he’ll make it work.
Opening a Jeff Noon book makes me feel like a kid again. I wasn’t even a full page in when I realized I was grinning widely and absolutely giddy with excitement. Noon puts Nyquist, and the reader, into a unique situation and describes it so completely we feel we are there. He gives us a situation that we can’t help but know we’re in for something unusual. A packed corridor with slow, steady movement but no one seeming to have a destination.
“Wait for it. Wait. It’s almost four o’clock. Wait, wait! Any second now…” an individual in the crowd tells Nyquist. Then:
A great cry went up, all along the line from both directions, every traveller shouting out at once, in one voice: “We are the queue!” … the cry came again, even louder now: “We ARE the queue!” … and then the cry a third time.
“WE ARE THE QUEUE!” …
And then the fellow tells Nyquist, “Every two hours on the hour, we need to assert ourselves, our place in the world, our glory.”
Noon’s writing is just brilliant and we appreciate Nyquist, our Everyman, who takes everything unusual in stride which is why we the reader are comfortable moving forward in this unusual world – if Nyquist can go on, so can we.
And what is it about British authors that they come up with some of the best character names?
Her name was Dandelion. Dandelion Applegood. … Dandelion was a woman with a blue shadow. Sometimes entirely blue, but often speckled with tiny silver stars.
I’d love to go on and share everything I highlighted in the book, but it would be a lot easier if you just go ahead and read it for yourself.
Mr. Noon, to quote John Nyquist: “I enjoyed having you inside my head.”
Looking for a good book? If you pick up Jeff Noon’s Within Without, you’ve found it.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Jeff Noon
series: John Nyquist #4
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 400 pages