This is a provocative page turner that raises lots of questions about where late 20th century capitalism is headed. FYI, it’s also the first Ballard novel I’ve read, but I have seen both of the films that were adapted from his books. I found it entertaining and mostly provocative, but I did have a few issues.
For one thing, Sinclair is not that likeable to begin with. I hope that was a deliberate choice but there is a part of me that thinks maybe I just don’t like Ballard (if Sinclair is meant to be him). Sinclair reminds me of an old Britain that I don’t think many of us miss: classist, sexist, racist, and utterly unaware of that, to the point where he believes he’s the very opposite – the most civilized man in the room. But, whether or not it was deliberate, it does make him a more interesting character (if not entirely believable given what later happens).
A bigger issue with the novel is Ballard’s view of psychiatry and psychology he seems to confuse the two. He appears to
- not really know what psychiatrists actually do in real life – or perhaps he’s willing to take a huge artistic license; and
- he seems to think whatever it is they do is as dangerous as fascism, unfettered capitalism, drug abuse and other such things.
That’s really odd to me and it’s a hard hook to hang a plot on, in my opinion. It works a lot better than it should, to his credit, but it’s still something that eats at you as you read the novel.
Otherwise, I mostly enjoyed the story, and there was enough going on to keep me interested and guessing.