BooksOfTheMoon

Brasyl

By Ian McDonald

Rating: 3 stars

This is a difficult book to describe and even after a few days of musing, I’m still not entirely sure what I thought of it. It follows three storylines, in three different time periods: 18th Century Brazil, following a Jesuit priest as he tracks down a rogue member of his order in the uncharted depths of the continent; modern day Rio where an ambitious television producer plans her next hit; and São Paulo in the 2030s as we follow a young favela entrepreneur and his entanglement with quantum computing.

The three plotlines are very different, with very different characters. I was never too fond of Marcelina, the TV producer, and her constant hunger for The Next Big Thing. Edson the favela kid trying to get out is complex, always willing to take on a challenge. Father Luis Quinn, the Jesuit priest, is possibly the most sympathetic of the characters, as he is sent to Brazil to take on “a task most difficult”.

The three plots only just come together at the end, sort of, at least. There’s a lot of quantum and multiverse-related weirdness and it all didn’t really work as well as I’d hoped for me, to be honest. I’m generally very fond of Ian McDonald’s work, but this just didn’t draw me in. He usually has an eye for fantastic use of language, but it wasn’t as apparent here as in several of his other books (possibly most noticeably Desolation Road and The Dervish House). There’s still an awful lot to enjoy (and some really neat ideas) but I don’t think it’s his finest work.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575082885
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2007

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