Thursday, January 7, 2010
Makers (2009) - BOOK
I've been mulling over MAKERS for a few days now trying to formulate my thoughts. I know that I like it. Quite a lot in fact. It's just...well...
First off, it's a fantastic book of ideas. It's the kind of read that makes me want to jump up and create my own electronic pieces of art (with my skill-set of nil). I want to gather together a bunch of like minded individuals and create giant maker communities. Cory Doctorow know how to stir the mind AND turn a phrase like nobodies business. His science fiction concepts are so solid, so believable, that it wouldn't be difficult to get me to believe he has a time machine. He dodges cliche, provides us with real individuals doing things that could believably happen tomorrow and makes it laugh out loud to boot.
Except the story didn't grab me. Neither did the unlikable characters.
Yes, you can make humanize someone by highlighting trivial faults, but it reached points in Makers where the protagonist were so selfish that I wanted to throw the book against the wall. I've read numerous novels with loathsome protagonist (all of the work by Bret Easton Ellis) but nothing turns me the wrong way like people positioned as selfish heroic figures. It was mostly Suzanne's character (which we follow for 125 pages and visit every now and then from that point on) that drove me up the wall.
The story seems to hold the Cory's interest only in spurts. At one moment it looks like we'll be digging straight into it and then it'll be dropped entirely as another thread will be picked up. Romances, double crosses and big reveals are hinted at endlessly but never delivered on. Is this another reflection of real life and it's disappointments? Perhaps, but it reads as half baked storytelling. For example, the lengthy epilogue illustrates some incredibly important points, but stumbles in its ponderous execution.
As an author, Cory has been hit and miss for me. His debut novel DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGICAL KINGDOM was an above average read, while EASTERN STANDARD TRIBE started strong but dropped the ball at the end, and his third novel SOMEONE COMES TO TOWN, SOMEONE LEAVES TOWN did the same (but it is one I'd like to revisit). His fourth novel LITTLE BROTHER is a classic. It successfully blends basic technological based creativity with engaging characters in interesting predicamenst. MAKERS has a lot of the LITTLE BROTHER CHARM, but it's missing some key ingredients to really make it something that I'd want to revisit.
It's a good read, one of the best I've had in a while, but not the classic I was hoping for.
Expectation are a bitch, uh?