I wasn't sure what to expect after reading Alex Garland's incredible debut, The Beach. I was hoping for similar excitement and fast-paced adventure. Well, I definitely got that in spades! The Tesseract is so much more realistic and dramatic, and I was feverishly turning pages to find out how this tesseract would unravel.
Told in four parts, The Tesseract begins with Sean, a sailor on the shipping waters of Manila, waiting in a seedy, run-down motel for the gangster, Don Pepe, and his motley crew. Then the story switches gears entirely and begins the tale of Rosa, a woman who remembers her first love, Lito, through flashbacks. This part of the story is told gently and almost romantically. The next story follows two Filipino street kids, Vincente and Totoy, as they wander the streets of Manila in search of hand-outs and a little excitement. Finally, the fourth part, a gritty and fantastic conclusion, has all three stories violently entwined.
I'm positive this novel was no easy feat to write; however, Alex Garland has done it flawlessly. The stories within this novel are powerful and dramatic, some violent, one wistful and romantic, and all are stunning and solid. A perfect novel to pick apart and invoke energetic discussions. Some things might go over novice readers' heads (when one of the characters, Alfredo, waxes philosophic), but for the most part it is easily understood. A highly recommended novel about how your destiny can be shaped by strangers, and how forces beyond your control can come crashing into your life in a moment's notice. Brilliant.