A review by krisrid
Cannonbridge by Jonathan Barnes


I think the best word I can come up with to describe this book is "over-blown".

The ultimate premise of the story - which I won't disclose to avoid spoilers - is somewhat clever, and quite timely given the state of today's world. The biggest issue for me was in the execution. The author's approach to how he got around to telling us what was really going on just felt a bit precious to me. I don't want to use the word pretentious, because I don't think the book was that. At least, it didn't feel that way to me.

But the use of a variety of literary lions - both real and fictional - to ostensibly spool out bits of the plot to the reader, which I think the author meant to be sly and quirky, in the end came across as flat and forced, at least, that's how it came across to me. The way the literary characters were presented, and the actions they took in relation to the plot were sort of pale and mild, which is defensible for some of those characters, but very much OUT of character for others, and overall it was nowhere near the impact it could have had if these characters had been written as we all understand them to actually be, personality wise. This was a missed opportunity. If you are going to invoke these types of iconic and famous individuals, do them justice. I didn't feel that was done here.

In fairness, I will say that I wanted to know what happened, and I read the entire book to find out, so points for writing in such a way that I felt I really needed to read the entire book to understand the answers and the ending. The feature of alternating past and present storylines was better than some books I've read with this approach, but definitely not the best instance of this style of delivery.

I did like Toby quite a bit, and was engaged in his story of a normal sensible person suddenly dropped into an insane, seemingly-impossible set of circumstances through which he must somehow navigate to try to determine what the hell's going on, and what he can or should do about it.

The ending fit the rest of the book when you look back, and was an appropriate ending for everything that came before it. So the resolution was proper in my opinion.

Overall, I can't say I LIKED this book, but at the same time I wouldn't say I DISLIKED it. It had some pull on my interest and attention, and there were aspects I found very intriguing. But the two-star description of "It was ok" was closest to describing how I reacted to the entire book, once I'd finished it.