‘Popco’ by Scarlett Thomas

‘Gets A Bit Preachy’

Score: 4/5

For Christmas SWMBO got me a subscription to Big Green Bookshop’s recommendations. It’s a neat idea - there are a lot of books out there and trustworthy recommendations can be hard to come by. (Don’t start me on the awful recommendation engines that seem to drive most of the internet these days.)

This was the first, and it’s a good one. From 2004, it’s surprisingly old - I think they go to the effort of tailoring their recommendations. It starts out well, bringing some simple cryptography into the plot, and it quickly escalates to bring more complex codes and ciphers into the plot.

Other strands involve working for a big company and growing up as a slightly odd young girl. I could certainly relate to some, but not all, of the problems. And of course the tension in the plot grew as I made my way through the book, but so did the preachiness. By the end it felt very preachy - that the author was less concerned about telling a story and more about pushing an agenda.

That’s a shame because there’s a lot to like about the book. Even the agenda might not be so bad if it wasn’t so in-your-face to the detriment of the story.

Oh, and there’s a mistake in one of the codes. I don’t know if it’s an accidental typo (it’s a simple transposition error) or if it’s deliberate to see if anyone is going to bother deciphering the codes in their heads (I did). I should probably check and see if there’s a reward or errata but if there was I’m sure it’s long-since claimed.

I did enjoy reading this book, though I’m not sure I’m ready for another book by that author yet.

I’m looking forward to the next book in my subscription.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
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