Despite being an avowed sci-fi fan (check out my other reviews folks!) and always being appreciative of originality and innovation, I'm sorry, but I just didn't get this one.
Perhaps not having played the computer game that spawned this novel places me at an irretrievable disadvantage, but after ploughing through a 100 or so pages I had to give up, as the world of Portal simply didn't grab me and was becoming extremely tedious.
The striking cover art (on the UK release) and the blurb on the back cover promised much, as did the glowing praise from the late Timothy Leary. This has great potential, I thought, and couldn't wait to read our hero's narrative as he explores the eerily deserted Earth. Rather than reconnoitre this spooky new world, however, our prodigal astronaut devotes every geek-like waking hour to interrogating a computer system analogous to the Internet. This may well be the rational and logical thing to do, but it makes for interminably dull reading. The way Peter gradually masters the unfamiliar user interface and how the computer expert system gradually re-establishes itself is competently described, but sadly failed to hold my interest. One wonders if the book would have sold so many if the cover pic had depicted someone hunched over a computer terminal? To plagiarise an advert on UK TV, this one certainly doesn't do what it says on the tin!
Thus, I feel Portal is worth a couple of stars for the bold and innovative concept alone, but the paucity of any dynamic, let alone exciting, narrative allows no more than this.
I note that the other reviewers have heaped much praise on this book and awarded it maximum stars. I therefore expect my rather less than complimentary review may provoke indignation amongst the die-hard fans, however it would be disingenuous for me not to tell it as it is. If you ever see this novel in a charity shop in Hampshire, it may well be my old copy.