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Complex Story Ends With Powerful Punch
on July 9, 2015
You can see the increasing complexity and skill of Banks' writing as you go through the Culture series. By the eighth book, he's in his groove, with a complex story with many moving parts that progresses in unexpected ways until you get to an ending that's like a punch to the gut. Overall I think I appreciated this style better in the ninth book, Surface Detail, but his choice on how to end Matter was powerful. Although he does stick a little denouement at the very very end (hidden after his dramatis personae, like the kicker after the credits of a Marvel movie), he chooses to end the main story is a manner that feels almost abrupt, but which is very appropriate considering what's happening in the narrative.
I also appreciated his playing with and twisting the trope of "space princess" on its head. Books 8 and 9 are improved with interesting, complex female protagonists, something you don't always find in sci-fi. I definitely recommend Matter.