Science fiction and fantasy
by Graham Hancock
In another time, Leoni is getting in trouble with the police. After a dressing-down from her adoptive parents she takes an overdose, leading to a near-death experience and the threat of a long incarceration in a mental hospital. The trouble is, she doesn't feel like she's being held there for her own safety, or that she will even get out alive, because her family aren't the loving, concerned people they appear to be to the outside world. Do they have sinister plans for her?
Leoni isn't very likeable at this point. She's reckless, feckless and spoilt, and it's as though she's using her childhood trauma as an excuse for misbehaviour. What's more, she suspects that the trauma was all in her imagination. However things change when she meets a mysterious blue angel and learns about the nefarious plans of a demon named Sulpa. She has to journey into the spirit world to stop him, even though people in the normal world are out to destroy her, and the spirit world holds its own dangers to body and soul.
Entangled gets off to a violent, action-packed start, spiced up further by some very odd events. The spirit world is alien and threatening, and this often spills out into the 21st century or the Stone Age. Sometimes this strange, high-octane mayhem works well. However it soon becomes formulaic and overblown, particularly when every chapter ends on a cliff- It's hardly understated.
The Illimani are trying to hunt down and exterminate as many Uglies as they can, before moving on to destroy other Stone Age tribes. Ria finds herself involved in a war which she looks like being on the losing side of. There's blood and death, and then some.
Hancock's descriptive style focuses on extremes, so that he's often talking about the biggest, shiniest, gloopiest, nastiest or the most of whatever he's discussing. A tendency to use more words than necessary and to repeat ideas makes for tedious reading after a while. This quote from chapter 52 is typical of the style: ".. it wasn't the muddy waters of the Amazon they'd entered but some gloppy, transparent, mucilaginous goo,"
Already that paints a picture. So there really was no need for him to follow it up with:
"like a torrent of thick snot."
On top of this repetitive language there are passages of exposition in which expert characters hold forth on topics such as near-death experiences, travelling in the spirit world, and drinking Ayahuasca to induce visions. Once is forgiveable, but this type of scene happens several times, and it grates. The novel may be well researched, but there are better ways to sneak in these details without resorting to the old character-listens-to-a-lecture routine.
Quite a few of the minor characters are no more than caricatures, such as a pair of mean and beefy nurses Leoni meets in the mental institution. As the plot progresses situations get increasingly fanciful. There's heavy violence, lots of drug taking, and the occasional really disgusting scene. It all adds up to a pacey yet unsubtle novel which will have the most appeal for anyone who prefers fast, accessible writing to a narrative with more depth. Fans of Dan Brown might like this.
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