This is one of Bank’s better books–certainly far better than his last “Culture” novel, MATTER. I liked the way the little narratives fit together (or didn’t) it was like putting together a puzzle. A puzzle spattered with blood and brains, of course…
A couple of things keep me from giving this one five stars, though. First, there’s the intrusive politics. Yes, Iain, you are a Socialist.
Capitalism = Evil = Greed. Got it. Torture is evil; couldn’t agree more. All those brokers on Wall Street should be defenestrated. Check. But I read novels for enjoyment, not to be lectured; if I happen to learn something while enjoying the book, if the novel provokes thought as well as entertainment, that’s the
mark of a superior writer. But in the case of TRANSITION, the political stuff keeps poking the reader in the eye. A dash of subtlety would have improved this
Then there’s some stuff that our “unreliable narrator” tells us
that is never explained. What’s the deal with the sexual molestation thing of
the “patient”? Why was that in there? To show men what it’s like being molested?
What about the “broad shouldered” woman doctor and the dollies? What happened?
What was the deal with the catatonic patients? There doesn’t seem to be any plot
connection…but of course I might have missed it…Banks is awfully clever and
subtle–when he wants to be.
I feel guilty about the “unreliable
narrator” thing; I once mentioned that Banks used the technique in another (far
better) novel–INVERSIONS. I can’t shake the feeling that he read the review and
was somehow traumatized by it.