Thursday, November 22, 2012

Unnatural History, Jonathan Green

"In the closing years of the 20th century the British Empire's rule is still going strong. Queen Victoria is about to celebrate her 160th birthday, kept alive by advanced steam technology. London is a fantastical sprawling metropolis where dirigibles roam the skies, robot bobbies enforce the law and dinosaurs are on display in London zoo. 

Welcome to Magna Britannia, a steam driven world full of fantastical creations and shady villains. Here dashing dandies and mustachioed villains battle for supremacy while below the city strange things stir in the flooded tunnels of the old London Underground. In two scant months the nation, and all her colonies, will celebrate 160 years of Queen Victoria's glorious reign. But all is not well at the heart of the empire of Magna Britannia. A chain of events is about to be set in motion that, if not stopped, could lead to a world-shattering conclusion. It begins with a break-in at the Natural History Museum. A night watchman is murdered. An eminent Professor of Evolutionary Biology goes missing. Then a catastrophic overground rail-crash unleashes the dinosaurs of London Zoo"

This is a hard one for me to call. As I was reading Unnatural History I had a lot of fun in some places, and in others I was tearing my hair out in frustration at all the caricatures and stereotypes I kept having to endure. The whole novel is riddled with cliches that you're going to either love or hate. In all honesty the point at which Green included the line "Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated" I found myself crossing over the hate line.

Really I think the only thing I can say about this title is that it's fast-paced, action-packed fun, awash with every genre cliche imaginable. I can't write an in-depth review of it, because there's no depth to it. If you're looking for something to get your teeth into, and you're not a fan of one dimensional characters and general plot insanity, this one isn't for you. If you're ok with just enjoying the notion of dinosaurs rampaging through London, with cardboard cutout characters along for the ride, go for it.

I do 'get' what Unnatural History is doing, in fairness it doesn't pretend to be literary and it probably does work OK on a 'penny dreadful' level, but it really wasn't for me on the whole, and I won't be going any further with this series.

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