Living Next Door to the God of Love Hardcover – 2005
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One of the minor problems is that Robson appears to be determined to tell too many stories at once and doesn't get around to do any of them justice. A deadly problem is that these stories are mostly bad fantasy clich?s.
What kills the whole thing for me is lack of understandability. Why are the characters acting in the way they do? What are their motivations? What are their ranges of possible behavior? What are the laws of nature in the narrative universe they inhabit? To the reader these are mostly unfathomable. Don't even try to speculate about what one or another of the characters does next. No chance. As there are no constraints on what can and cannot happen you have to wait until the author comes around and tells you. The effect is not very exciting. Bare facts and wonders are boring.
If anything, read Robson's Natural History before this book. Then, at least you get a glimpse of what Stuff and Engines are about. Alas, it doesn't help much.
It starts off well, simialar to any "post-human" / "avant garde" sci-fi. Then it just goes on and on without being clear to with what is actually going on. I got about 2/3 of the way through this book before i actually had to put it down and say, this is "well written", but not good. Nothing is explained, i was still unclear about many details in the universe, and i could barely follow what was happening. Very dissapointed.
But it has become clear to me that this book is a sequel to Natural History (a detail oddly missing from the amazon.com description). It's not a sequel in the sense of a direct continuation of the earlier plot, but it is concerned with the consequences of the actions of the characters of the earlier novel. So I am putting it aside until I have a chance to look at Robson's previous book.
The audiobook is 16 hours long, and it took me a few weeks to finish (I don't have the time to listen very often), so that might also explain why I've had difficulties piecing it all together. In any case, I don't think it's the right medium for this book, I'm sure it helps if you can reread bits that seemed a bit hazy. Simon Brooks' performance is mostly enjoyable, although there were some words he pronounced funnily - I'm not a native speaker but even I know that 'meme' is not pronounced 'meemee'. There was a character named Valkyrie whose name I understood as 'Velcri' throughout the book, strictly two syllables, stress on the first - is that really how this word is pronounced?
In any case, I wouldn't talk anyone out of reading this novel. It's not perfect, but it has a lot to speak for it. However, I think it's a good idea to read a paper copy or an e-book instead of the audiobook.