Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review of Rule Zero by Laurence Timms

Rule ZeroRule Zero by Laurence Timms
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you love non-stop action, mayhem, explosions, wanton destruction and high body counts, with maybe a zombie thrown in for good measure, this is the book for you. Laurence Timms is a screenwriter, and it shows. If Rule Zero were made into a movie, it would be very much at home with the other Hollywood thrillers of the day, only perhaps even more so. Timms is what the genetically engineered offspring of Iain R. Banks and Douglas Adams would be like if he were also high on amphetamines.*

Towards the start of the story, when things are calmer, there are some humorous and even insightful moments, especially pertaining to Helen, the luckless fluff-piece-writing journalist who gets caught up in the dangerous game going on between the Ministry of Defense and its enemies. For example, "She was the kind of person who packed four kinds of nightwear for a weekend away on the basis that you just never knew. What it was you never knew she wasn’t sure, but in Helen’s book equipping oneself with a choice of nightwear went some way to mitigating the horror of the unknown." These felicitous observations last until the action gets underway in earnest (up until that point, several people have tried to kill Helen, but it turns out that's nothing compared to what's coming), and then things are rather grim for quite some time.

To my mind, the novel's biggest flaw is its length. There is so much of it, so many different characters and different things going on, that the problem is twofold; a great deal to remember, and plenty of time in which to forget it. So I often found myself thinking things like, "Who's that guy again?" "What is this SMILE company trying to achieve, anyway?" and finally, "Was that explained earlier? Because I didn't get that at all. Did I miss something?" I expect that won't be an uncommon experience for readers. It might be a good idea to keep notes. Failing that, you might have to read the book twice to fully understand it.

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* And yes, he is British. Why do Brits write so much better than North Americans, by and large? Is it the educational system? The canings? Tea with milk? Frequent rain? I don't know, but I must find out. Back

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