(2005) Robertski Brothers (AKA Adam Roberts) Orion Books, £5.99, pbk, 300pp, ISBN 0-575-07667-4
I was glad I'd seen the Matrix trilogy when I read this book, mainly as it comprehensively spoofs both the characters and the events in the movies, in such a way that it's easy to visualise what the author is referring to. It's a fun little book and definitely not designed to be taken seriously in the least. At some points, the humour fringes on the absurd but is kept within the scope of the storyline by a witty and conversational narrative with a distinctively British style of humour. The book also works well by being the length it is as it would lose its impact by being any longer.
The story's main character, whose web ID is Nero, is not out to be a hero by any means and is rather taken aback when he is approached by Thinity, who he falls for instantly but is simply too shy to admit his feelings for. Nero's life is made a little more uncomfortable by the appearance of the Gents - a spoof version of the Agents in the Matrix movies but with a very distinctive dress code and a very distinct aversion to saying their names. Nero is not out to be the one, either - he's out to be the No-One - which is not a stretch given that he's a bit incompetent in the action hero stakes!
The book is definitely one to be read with your brain firmly on hold, and has lots of fun little interpretations on the movies - for example the "ship" that Nero finds himself aboard and the method by which anyone wishing to enter the McAtrix "plugs themselves in". I don't want to spoil anyone's enjoyment of the book by revealing too much, but observations of every day life are very much an integral part of the way the humour works within the novel.
It's clear to see that the author had a great time writing this book, to the point where there are "deleted scenes" and humorous takes on well known works of science fiction. There is also another fun little touch - the paragraphs are interspersed with smileys and text pictures - for example :%)% which get more and more elaborate as the story goes on. I'm sure that, much as I personally enjoyed this book, it wouldn't appeal to everyone, but as a light-hearted read for a bit of a laugh, it's just perfect!
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