Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Review: Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
Blurb: Joe Spork, son of the infamous criminal Matthew "Tommy Gun" Spork, just wants a quiet life, repairing clockwork in a wet, unknown bit of London. Edie Banister, former superspy, lives quietly and wishes she didn't. She's nearly ninety and the things she fought to save don't seem to exist anymore. She's beginning to wonder if they ever did. When Joe is asked to fix one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. The client? Unknown. The device? A 1950s doomsday machine. Having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie's old arch-nemesis. Joe's once-quiet world is now populated with mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe. The only way he can survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she gave up years ago, and pick up his father's old gun.
What I thought: Angelmaker is maybe the most brilliantly funny book I can remember reading. With the possible exception of The Giggler Treatment, but that does have the advantage of containing little chameleon-things and poo.
It is smart, in the most hilarious way possible. There is a glass-eyed, single-toothed dog named Bastion, a terrifying old lady who could possibly destroy the universe by accident, an evil dictator who wants to be a god, and an ingenious lawyer and his gorgeous-toed sister. Also, Joe Spork, son of a gangster, grandson of a clockmaker, who hasn't quite made up his mind which one he wants to be. And an ex-gangster's wife turned nun. It must be the most eclectic mix of characters since Harry Potter. I particularly like the dog.
Beginning in a dreary, forgotten corner of London, where the most interesting part of Joe's day is his ongoing battle with the neighbour's cat (which is actually rather entertaining), the story escalates into a wild celebration of crime, and humour, and good-against-bad. With a lot of crazy scientists and clockwork added in.
There are some rather horrific torture-related moments, but aside from that, it's not too gory. It's mainly just hilarious. My roommate came in last night while I was reading it, and I was lying on my bed laughing like a complete loony. I'm expecting an ambulance to drive up at any moment.
The thing about this book is that it's just so fun. But the fun-ness (yes, I did just make that word up) doesn't detract from the intelligence or the writing, which is awesome. The story carries you along with it, and by the end you're laughing and grinning and rooting for them to win. Hilarious, satirical and vaguely nostalgic, this is a book that will make you happy.