A rich story of Lovecraftian dread mixed with post X-files paranoia. Recommended.
I've been dragging my feet on this for two months and I've decided to throw in the towel. I can't bring myself to read any more solid walls of text.
"Great swaths of the rocky seafloor rising up to meet her beneath a carpet of calcified cyanobacteria and the branching lobes and solitary cups of archaeocyath sponges.There are knotted clusters formed by problematic chancellorids, an enigma to taxonomists, who must place all organisms in this box or that box; the chancellorids may be only sponges, or they may be slug like halkieriids protected inside their skins of star shaped, calcareous sclerites."
I wanted to like this so much, but I just can't get into it.
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC, but since I did not finish, I do not feel it's fair for me to rate or review at this time.*
“And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.” – When I read this line, I didn’t immediately think about Slaughterhouse Five. If I had made the Slaughterhouse Five/Billy Pilgrim connection, I would probably have ran screaming in the other direction. A Vonnegut fan I am most decidedly not, and Slaughterhouse Five in particular is one of those books that makes my lip curl in disgust when I think about it. But I didn’t make the connection in the synopsis of Agents of Dreamland, so I committed to reading the book.
I can acknowledge that my issues with this book fall under personal taste rather than just bad writing. First off is the prose. I don’t know if this is a trademark of Kiernan’s writing (and if it is she’ll be an author I avoid in the future), but Sweet Baby Cthulhu, Agents of Dreamland is overflowing with metaphors and similes. I don’t mind the occasional one here and there, but there’s definitely a line I draw in the sand. Upon further reflection, it was probably deliberately done to add to the sense of unreality given to you from the plot itself, but it was just outright boring after about four pages in.
There were elements of the novel that I did like. The idea behind the novel itself – of spores of an alien civilization seeding itself upon the earth – was a fun one. I’d like to see a fleshed out version of this plot written with a bit of a blunter pen and more fitted into the sci-fi horror or sci-fi thriller categories. Obviously, the Lovecraftian references delighted me. (The ones that I caught, at least. I’m sure there were some I didn’t get.) There was a snippet of a poem from Lovecraft that she shares near the end of the book that was truly beautiful. I have the full poem marked for reading later. And I did like the connections she made across the ages to add a bit of depth to the story.
However, Kiernan has an interesting mind. That cannot be denied. And there were portions of Agents of Dreamland that did make me think. She also makes some interesting (and apt) observations about humanity. And there was one element in the story that I’ve never seen appear in another science fiction novel, so the uniqueness was appreciated. I just need a little more oomph than ooh la la when it comes to my stories, please.
The author's warnings are little pretentious. "If your ears, eyes, and sensibilities are easily offended, this book is not for you. If you want a romance novel, this book is not for you. ... In fact, if you're the sort who believes books should come with warning labels, this book's not for you." Then she states, "Also, please note: Siobham Quinn is not a very good writer. Fair notice." Um, Siobhan Quinn is a fictional character who is the "heroine" of the book. This paragraph left a bad taste in my mouth. Like the author is too cool and anyone who dislikes her book is not part of the cool group. I guess I'm not part of the cool group.