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Tokyo Zero: A Novel Paperback – September 26, 2007
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I did find the writing rather varied though, some awesomely clever written passage and some quite tedious and confusing stuff. There is one section where the POV character is narrating even though he is unconscious. Seriously! Still worth read though.
There's a good story to this...one of those Japanese cults, a Westerner with an ambiguous background as the protagonist [or antagonist depending on which way you think], and a lot of Japanese cultists who seem ordinary but are usually killers too. And potentially big killers. There are times when I felt it went too much into the history of each character...example, the main character walks into a room, meets three new people in the cult, and we're led through histories of all three of them, one by one...as well written as it is, it can get a little tiring sometimes...but that's a tiny complaint really.
And this thing is really well-written. There aren't many writers who can put sentences together like this, and move through time the way he does...there are no surplus actions with the characters, and pretty much every scene ends in the right way and at the right time...it's almost like a movie in that aspect...the only difference being the narrator, who reveals himself more through his opinions than his actions...although later in the book this flips sides and he becomes more active...if that makes sense. I think it does.
Basically, I liked this a lot.
Originally titled My Tokyo Death Cult (a far superior title, by the way), the book is very loosely based on 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. The "fulcrum of human history" is a plot to eliminate the human race by means of a device a device that "strongly resembles a drinking bird toy." To get there, you cruise wildly imaginative waters where would-be fascist billionaires consort with female assassins, mothers are killed by the Khmer Rouge, plastic surgeons manipulate human DNA, bearded cult leaders levitate on the Tokyo subway, and a superpowerful artificial intelligence employs an irony filter.
All set against the backdrop of living, sweating Tokyo: "I sat down and was brought a steaming yellow towel wrapped in plastic. I unwrapped it, enjoying the too-hotness of parts of it and then stuck it to my face, which it melted. But it was just melting the outer face that Tokyo layers on you always, so that was good." Horne admirably portrays the great megalopolis without relying on the usual stereotypes of big-eyed comic girls and horribly crowded subways, exposing the real Tokyo in all its unending idiosyncrasy lurking among the drab concrete conformity.
Horne writes in a lyrically jarring fashion that never quite releases the tension long enough for you to get your footing. Flashbacks and flashforwards zoom past like hurtling Tokyo trains, leaving you agreeably frazzled. Horne has a way of dropping big ideas without taking his foot of the pedal. "The Japanese ... liked their cars to have faces and their ATM machines to have social lives. They were beginning to see humanity as something everywhere ... something you do, not something you are." Some writers might get tangled up in such abstractions, but not Horne. The plot zooms on and you go with it if you want to find out how it all ends. Believe me, you do.
Sometimes the clever button gets overused, as in a vertical car park "that dangled cars like some tie rack that would arrive from your wife after the love was gone." Coincidences of Dickensian proportions are a touch too prominent. The ending arrives with the abruptness of an idea tank running on fumes. Small points, but you do notice them as the book winds up.
Overall, Tokyo Zero is a fine, fun read.
On a technical note, the PDF file I downloaded contained typos and not a few misspellings. Nothing major, but I do hope the official Kindle version and the paper version are cleaned up. Available under a Creative Commons license, it's a great example of the quality fiction that is available for free download.
Marc is able to synthesize a big-think technology near-future with lyrical prose. That said, Tokyo Rose isn't about what the future looks like. Instead, it's about a real and conflicted character. Someone else said it best - think of a Tarantino character in a Gibson-esque Tokyo ruminating on viral memes and the end of times.
That mix is just a blast to read, and I'm looking forward to his next book (where I'm hoping some of the rough edges have been ironed out re: clarity) The Unhappy Planet.
Best of all, it raises the bar for independently published fiction.
The story is smart and engaging, with enough detail to make you feel a part of the action, but enough twists to keep you guessing. Marc Horne is a masterful author who makes the life of a westerner in a Tokyo death cult seem plausible. The ending is great. A unique vision that will leave you to think about where we are headed.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for an enjoyable read.
very descriptive - often, it seems to me, blending his words with LSD. It is a
fast paced and very interesting read. When finished here I am downloading the sequel.