Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Scotsman Abroad | The Afterparty At Last

Some time ago, I told you all how much I was looking forward to Daryl Gregory's new novel. Well, its release date in the UK is this week. At long last, the Afterparty is upon us!

Alas, I didn't love it. In my review for Strange Horizons, written around the time of Afterparty's publication in April Stateside, I commented as follows:
Taken together, The Parable of The Girl Who Died and Went to Hell, Not Necessarily in That Order, and The Sixth Sense twist at the back of the first chapter, when it dawns on us that Dr. Gloria is a pharmaceutical figment of Lyda's lively imagination, do a terrific job of eliciting interest—intrigue, even—in Afterparty, but what follows is, if not flat, then fairly familiar. Too soon, Gregory disposes of the doctor—she has a good Christian conscience, of course, so Lyda's abuse of Ollie bothers her—and in her absence, Afterparty becomes a more mundane chase-and-escape affair than the suggestive start of the book moots: it's revealed to be a thriller as opposed to a thinker, less Philip K. Dick than Lee Child or the like. 
It's a credit to Gregory that the going is engrossing in any event, in large part because of its pitch-perfect pace: a race to the finish line, in fact, between Lyda's lot and a cowboy contract killer called Vincent—pardon me: the Vincent (don't ask)—by way of a series of exciting set-pieces, such as the party's botched border crossing after an uncomfortably close encounter with an elderly Afghan drug distributor. 
On the back of Raising Stony Mayhall, I don't suppose it should come as a surprise that the author is more interested in character than narrative, but I found it harder to love Lyda than I did the eponymous zombie of Gregory's last novel, and Afterparty's plot, though perfectly paced, proved more pedestrian than that suggested by the promising premise.

Afterparty is a good book, to be sure, but here I'd been hoping for something superlative. Do yourself a favour and read Raising Stony Mayhall instead. Now that is an awesome novel.

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