I picked up this book for two reasons. The first was the abbreviation “Jnr” in the title, which was strange enough (oh, those Aussies) to make me stop and read the blurb. The second was the blurb, which began, “He can make you forget. He can control you. And he is only eight years old.” Soooooooooooooooold. (Someone’s been watching too much World Cup lately…)
At the beginning, the book lived up to all of my expectations, which were basically, this is going to be awesome. It starts with a big-headed child controlling people to do everything he wants and then discarding them when he’s done, and expands to include another telepath turning himself in to the government to help them find this child that the government doesn’t really believe exists in the first place, and then starts to describe this future world where there are telepaths who are greatly feared and therefore subjugated and where people are even more connected to the internet (here called the Weave) and each other than we currently are.
But where I thought the book would be about, you know, the hunt for Pierre Jnr, it’s far more about this future world and the consequences of connectivity and and the perils of prejudice and whether anyone’s mind is really his own.
And that’s pretty awesome, don’t get me wrong. Henley puts a lot of thought into our future government, where leaders are chosen by the Will of the people, who are polled constantly about their thoughts and their preferences and the people they like are put into power immediately. He also posits machines that allow people to communicate like telepaths between themselves and the Weave, and people who are bred to use these machines from birth. I am fascinated by this world.
But, two problems. The one with me is that I found myself thinking often, “This sounds reaaaaally familiar.” It turns out that this book is kind of a mashup of several books I’ve read recently, some of which I haven’t even gotten around to talking about here, and so I kept getting distracted thinking about the other books while I was meant to be thinking about this book and I got quite confused at times. I won’t spoil every crossover detail, but if you’ve read The Circle, Lock In, The Word Exchange, or Brilliance recently, you might find yourself in the same situation.
The one with the book is that it turns out that this is the first book in a trilogy, and as such Henley answers almost none of the questions that he brings up within the story — Is Pierre Jnr real? Whose minds is he controlling? What is his end game? What is the government’s end game? — and I finished the book completely frustrated and almost unwilling to seek out the next book whenever that comes out. Ugggh.
But even just a few days later, I find myself really wanting to know what happens next, so I suppose Henley wins this round. There had better be some answers in the next book, though, or I will take my complaints to the Internet!
Recommendation: For dark speculative fiction fans and those under the control of Pierre Jnr.