Doesn’t hit the mark
Release Date: OUT NOW!
302 pages | £ 16.99 ( hardback)/£ 6.56 ( ebook) Author: John Twelve Hawks Publisher: Bantam
Near- future sf is one of
the hardest subgenres to get right, and also one of the easiest ways for “mainstream” authors to trip themselves up in embarrassing ways. Creating a convincing extrapolation for today’s privacyfree, smartphone- obsessed society isn’t easy, and while new thriller Spark tries its best to use the near- future setting to explore provocative questions, it’s ultimately dragged down by its routine plotting and pretentious tone.
Jacob Underwood is an assassin employed by a massive financial corporation called DBC who suffers from Cotard’s Syndrome – a mental disorder that makes him believe he is dead. Blank and emotionless, he “erases” his targets with no problems, but when he’s assigned to hunt down a runaway female DBC employee, and is then asked to kill an entire family, things get out of control. Jacob’s logical façade crumbles as he starts experiencing feelings and questioning his world view…
The core of the book is a bog- standard globetrotting thriller. Around this are wrapped thin character drama and sci- fi concepts that often feel like a very ’ 90s version of the future. Creaky dialogue combines with overplayed philosophical themes. The result is a confused mishmash of spirituality, SF and anti- surveillance polemic, whose most interesting ideas have all been done before by better, more memorable writers. Saxon Bullock