This is one of those classic cases of me being completely susceptible to marketing. There had been a poster advertising the paperback edition of this book at my train station. So, every morning on my way to work, I saw this book cover. I also saw the quote that described it as 1984 for our times or whatever. Well, it clearly worked because I had a huge urge to read this book. I didn’t really know much about it. But when it popped up in Amazon as a recommendation I had been conditioned enough to click on it. And it sounded great. I mean it took the Wall from Game of Thrones and added it to the modern world. I’m normally wary of dystopian novels because they tend to just be the same as each other. Nobody has written an original dystopian novel in years. I know there are plenty of people out there who will disagree but I haven’t been excited by one for ages.
Autumn by Ali Smith might well have taken the title of “the first Brexit novel” but, really, ever since the result in 2016, we’ve just been waiting for every British writer to churn out there own. Machines Like Me introduced us to Ian McEwan’s anger about the decision to take the UK out of the EU. In his alternate 80s timeline, British Prime Minister Tony Benn decides to take the UK out of the European Union without a second referendum. The writer hasn’t hidden his feelings about the current state of politics in this country so it was clear this wouldn’t be the last we heard about it. And, lo and behold, a few weeks ago it was announced that McEwan was set to release a surprise new novella. The work would be a political satire of “an old tradition”. Now, I’ve had an odd relationship with McEwan over my lifetime. When I was a teenage I read everything he wrote with glee. I loved his works. Enduring Love, Atonement, Saturday, and his short story collections were regularly recommended to everyone I could find. But, over the years, I’ve found myself less inclined to try out his new stuff. I loved On Chesil Beach but, until this year, that was the last recent book of his I opened. And then, Machines Like Me wasn’t anywhere near as good as I was hoping. Still, this was a novella and its mustard yellow. I do so love yellow things. I decided it was worth a try.