Book Review – A Man of Shadows by Jeff Noon

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The brilliant, mind-bending return to science fiction by one of its most acclaimed visionaries

Below the neon skies of Dayzone – where the lights never go out, and night has been banished – lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.

As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer known only as Quicksilver haunts the streets, Nyquist starts to suspect that the runaway girl holds within her the key to the city’s fate. In the end, there’s only one place left to search: the shadow-choked zone known as Dusk.

Review:

I received an ARC of this from Angry Robots as I was immediately intrigued as soon as I saw the cover of this book and the description sounded fascinating. It says Science Fiction although this could also easily be classed as Urban Fantasy and would definitely appeal to fans of that sub-genre.

The best part of this book is the setting, which is absolutely stunning. The city is split into two sections – Dayzone and Nocturna. In Dayzone, the sky is made up of layers and layers of brightly coloured bulbs so that it is always day, while in Nocturna it’s almost permanently dark and the constellations are made up of the few remaining bulbs high up. To travel between the two halves, you need to take a train that travels via Dusk which is the shadowy region between the two.

Many characters, like Nyquist, have homes in both Dayzone and Nocturna letting them choose when they wish it to be night. Another excellent addition to the world-building is the concept of time. The idea of having permanent day and night is already enough to play with the usual concepts of time, but in this city everybody is also on different timelines and you can choose which ones you want and change as you travel. Nyquist is always fiddling with his wristwatch to update it to the timeline of his current area such as updating the time in the pub so that he’s able to drink.

The plot of the story starts out as your basic missing persons case, but develops into much more than that as Eleanor Bale, the missing woman, turns out to be much more important to the city than first thought. I won’t mention too much of the plot as being a mystery, I wouldn’t want to spoil it. The main character is Nyquist who I really enjoyed reading about, and the rest of the side characters are all fantastic and well-written with interesting backgrounds and motives. Eleanor in particular was really enjoyable to read about and I loved it as we slowly discovered more about her and her background.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would have recommended it just for the amazing world-building alone, however having fantastic characters and an excellent plot means that this is definitely a novel worth reading and I struggled at times to put it down.

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