First impressions. Short book, more of a novella than a novel. I finished it in one day (a day off work). Alex Garland, if you don't know his work, wrote a famous novel called The Beach in the 90's. The book was much better than the Leonardo Di Caprio movie of the same name. Garland's second novel was called The Tesseract and was set in the Philippines. So this is Garland's third novel (although as I said, it's more of a novella).
Without spoiling the plot, the bulk of the book describes a dream world. It's a rather tired theme in literature and indeed cinema - the blur between reality and dreams. And to be frank, I thought the middle section of the book was weak. The dream world was never very convincing to me. But the start and end of the book saved it. This seems to mirror the main themes of the book: waking/dreaming, birth/death, reality/dreams, start/end.
So the novella format Garland adopts is I think deliberate. He wants us to finish the book in a day, or read it all in one sitting even. So that it's similar to the timespan of a dream, which typically occurs during a period of sleep.
To the plot. Basically the main character (it's a first-person narrative) gets beaten up in a train and falls into a coma. The dream world described in the book is a result of the coma. That's about all there is to the plot. But Garland wraps it up very well and the ending circles back onto the beginning, in line with the themes mentioned above.
Well those are my first impressions of this book. I may read it again to get a better handle on it.
My Rating: 6/10