My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Mysterious clockwork apocalypse machines, mechanical bees, female secret agents, gangsters and shady government departments - this should have been everything I look for in a book, but having ploughed through all 566 pages of it, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it.
I originally almost gave up by page 12, having discovered (a) that it was written in the present tense, which is immensely irritating, and (b) the main protagonist starts off by trying to kill a cat. Not the best of starts. But having paid Actual Money for it, I determined to read the rest.
And by and large, it was worth it: it's gripping, inventive, exciting, funny and has some great characters. It's also very nasty (descriptions of human and animal torture), meandering, occasionally confusing (there's a lot of timeshifting between narrative streams), and the main protagonist for the most part comes across as a dull lump of placeholder bemoaning his lot. Not to mention that after an immense amount of build up across decades and continents the ending also feels rather rushed and unsatisfying.
On the whole then, I'm glad I persevered, but it's not a book I can see myself re-reading, or that makes me want to search out the rest of his work.
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