Gnomon
Gnomon, which took Harkaway more than three years to complete, is set in a world of ubiquitous surveillance. Pitched as "a mind-bending Borgesian puzzle box of identity, meaning and reality in which the solution steps sideways as you approach it", it features: a detective who finds herself investigating the very society she believes in, urged on by a suspect who may be an assassin or an ally, hunting through the dreams of a torture victim in search of the key to something she does not yet understand; a banker who is pursued by a shark that swallows Fortune 500 companies; Saint Augustine’s jilted mistress who reshapes the world with miracles; a refugee grandfather turned games designer who must remember how to walk through walls or be burned alive by fascists; and a sociopath who falls backwards through time in order to commit a murder.

Gnomon Details

TitleGnomon
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 19th, 2017
PublisherWilliam Heinemann
Rating
GenreFiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia

Gnomon Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    This is a strange multi-layered beast of a book set in a future Britain under total surveillance, governed by the System, where the majority of people remarkably believe this is a good thing. It is a dense and demanding sci-fi and fantasy read requiring attention and patience from the reader. It would be remiss of me not to mention that at 700+ pages, you need to prepared for the long haul. This is a sprawling tale which goes in a myriad of directions and left me bewildered as to where it was he This is a strange multi-layered beast of a book set in a future Britain under total surveillance, governed by the System, where the majority of people remarkably believe this is a good thing. It is a dense and demanding sci-fi and fantasy read requiring attention and patience from the reader. It would be remiss of me not to mention that at 700+ pages, you need to prepared for the long haul. This is a sprawling tale which goes in a myriad of directions and left me bewildered as to where it was heading and what to make of what I was reading. Inspector Mielikki Neith of Witness is investigating the death of Diana Hunter, which to all intents to purposes should not have occurred whilst she was being interrogated. Diana was 61 years old, divorced with no children. She was an administrator and the writer of Quairendo, rumoured to contain secret truths hidden within it although this is disputed.Inspector Neath is one of those who believes in the good of the system, but as she investigates she is forced to question her beliefs. Nothing is fixed, not even time or notions of reality. The story revolves around the complex issues of identity, shifting and changing realities and questions of what it all might mean, although the conclusion does help a little. I expect every reader to have different concepts and thoughts as to what this novel is about because it is difficult to discern what intentions the author has. This level of nebulousness is likely to leave many readers deeply frustrated. This is a difficult review to write, I find myself in the quandry of knowing I cannot do justice to this book or even delineate precisely what it is about. If you are happy to be left stranded to make of it what you will, then this is a book for you. There are detailed descriptions, it is beautifully written and slow paced. The vocabulary the author uses is extensive and likely to having you reach for the dictionary often. A novel that succeeds in leaving me shaking my head and, at the same time, enthralled. I am at a loss as to what else to say! Many thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    Gnomon is actually a novel that defies description for all the right reasons, it is an epic, an ultimately rewarding read with so many layers inside the layers under the levels that hide the realities that your head will spin and you’ll come out of it feeling dazed and probably weirdly wired. Or maybe that is just me. We’ll see I guess…The use of language is purely beautiful, a smorgasbord of differing voices all linked to the main bulk of the narrative through the eyes of the Inspector. Probabl Gnomon is actually a novel that defies description for all the right reasons, it is an epic, an ultimately rewarding read with so many layers inside the layers under the levels that hide the realities that your head will spin and you’ll come out of it feeling dazed and probably weirdly wired. Or maybe that is just me. We’ll see I guess…The use of language is purely beautiful, a smorgasbord of differing voices all linked to the main bulk of the narrative through the eyes of the Inspector. Probably. But anyway – the point is, this is literary if you take it in the popularly defined way, as such it might not be for everybody and indeed may challenge you in ways I also can’t describe – but in the end you know not one word was wasted.I feel I should try and explain a little about the plot but the blurb does that in some ways (but not at all in others) and I’m not sure that if I focus on any one element that I wouldn’t pick the wrong one to focus on. Peripherally it is about the investigation of an interrogation that has gone awry, in a UK run by “the System” that sees all and therefore by the people rather than a government, this is seen by most within that system as a genuine Utopia. I guess the main theme explored is whether such a thing is even possible, human nature being what it is. That is the simplest way of saying what I saw there but the next reader may well turn around and say “what the heck are you on, its not about that at all”Now I’ve read back the above it probably isn’t about that….ANYWAY there you go. Nick Harkaway has created a story that can be wildly interpretive or I suppose if you must, dissected bit by bit until you come to some thoughts about what the author intended – but I don’t think it matters what the author intended (sorry Mr Harkaway) but more matters whether or not you love it and get something from it under the guise of your own personality. I loved it but you can’t ask me why because I don’t really know and probably never will know. I do know that I will read it again in the future, first page to last, with the knowledge of the ending and it will be a completely different novel to the one that I have just read.Basically I feel like I have just been swallowed by a shark.Gnomon spoke to me in it’s final denouement but what it said I will never tell -because it’s going to tell you something different and I wouldn’t want to be called a liar – also because that is its reward for sticking with it, through the craziness and the sense of it as you absorb all those beautiful words and turn them into a whole.Intelligent, driven, for me summed up in that blurb sentence that reads “a solution that steps sideways as you approach it” Gnomon is challenging, wonderful, descriptively fascinating, unrelentingly clever and in the end worth every moment of your time. A grand sprawling epic of indescribable proportions.What can I say? Highly Recommended.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really struggled with this, unfortunately and couldn't finish it. The premise seemed really interesting - I love dystopian fiction, but I found the story overly long and convoluted. It was very slow paced, with large sections devoted to descriptions, and unloading a lot of information in one go, making it difficult to hold my attention. I also struggled to get emotionally invested in anything that happened. Unfortunately not for I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really struggled with this, unfortunately and couldn't finish it. The premise seemed really interesting - I love dystopian fiction, but I found the story overly long and convoluted. It was very slow paced, with large sections devoted to descriptions, and unloading a lot of information in one go, making it difficult to hold my attention. I also struggled to get emotionally invested in anything that happened. Unfortunately not for me, but I'm sure those looking for a deep novel that requires a lot of concentration with a hint of science fiction will love it.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    This was far too dense for me. I can see that this is literary fantasy/ dystopia, but I really couldn’t get on with it. I like books, generally speaking,that make the reader “work for it” but I was doing all the work and not getting much pleasure!Many thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Quirkyreader
    January 1, 1970
    First off, I received this as an ARC from Penguin Random House. Thank You.This book fits squarely in the category "what in the heck did I just read". It kind of has a "House of Leaves" feel to it. It's like a Russian nesting doll and The Lament Configuration all in one big puzzle.It does start off slow, but give it time. Once you start to work to puzzle out you will see why. This story also screams undertones of Phillip K. Dick. So if you love Dick's work, this is a treat.
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    The first novel that I have read by Nick Harkaway. From the initial blurb that I read on Netgalley and Goodreads, the book sounded great. However, for me this was a very slow read and when I first started reading the book it felt like the author had swallowed a dictionary. To be very honest and I know this sounds brutal, but I found it boring. This is only my opinion and I am sure many other readers will disagree with me. I'm very disappointed.Many thanks to Netgalley for the copy in return for The first novel that I have read by Nick Harkaway. From the initial blurb that I read on Netgalley and Goodreads, the book sounded great. However, for me this was a very slow read and when I first started reading the book it felt like the author had swallowed a dictionary. To be very honest and I know this sounds brutal, but I found it boring. This is only my opinion and I am sure many other readers will disagree with me. I'm very disappointed.Many thanks to Netgalley for the copy in return for my honest and unbiased opinion.
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  • Michael Cayley
    January 1, 1970
    Frankly I found this dystopian novel boring. The prose was too convoluted, with lots of recondite or invented words; there was too much information dumping - what appeared to me like mini-essays giving background information; and the whole book seemed overlong and slow-moving. I am sure it is very clever, but that is not enough to keep the reader’s attention.With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    El autor se ha esforzado por crear una trama llena de vocabulario complejo, descripciones exageradas y alternando sucesos que a simple vista no encajan, dando así como resultado una "novela" demasiado densa.Me aburrió totalmente desde la primera página, y creo que aunque sea una distopía algunas situaciones son inverosímiles.
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  • Penelope
    January 1, 1970
    Like all of Mr Harkaway's books, this more than any of them, requires you to trust that the author will carry you through, the at times, incomprehensible story, and reward your diligence and perseverance with a denouement that will quite possibly shake your world view. Gnomon does just that! It's not the easiest of books to read, and Angelmaker still remains my favourite book by this author, but the time and effort taken to read it is not wasted. At the very least you will learn a 100 new words Like all of Mr Harkaway's books, this more than any of them, requires you to trust that the author will carry you through, the at times, incomprehensible story, and reward your diligence and perseverance with a denouement that will quite possibly shake your world view. Gnomon does just that! It's not the easiest of books to read, and Angelmaker still remains my favourite book by this author, but the time and effort taken to read it is not wasted. At the very least you will learn a 100 new words that will expand your vocabulary in directions you didn't know it needed to grow and at the most this novel will worm it's way into your cerebral cortex and find a home amongst your grey matter to leave you a slightly different person to the one you were before you read it. I whole heartedly recommend Nick Harkaway as an author to read but be prepared to be bemused, befuddled, discomposed and discombobulated but also educated, highly entertained, extremely enlightened and utterly delighted.
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  • Caroline Mersey
    January 1, 1970
    Every novel by Nick Harkaway is different, and Gnomon (review copy from William Heinemann) is probably his most ambitious book yet. This is a complex, multi-layered book that braids together a series of narratives to tell a story about society and our trust in its underlying structures. Mielikki Neith is the key to piecing all this together. Neith is the foremost Investigator for The System, the all-seeing and all-knowing system that governs society. Part panopticon, part the ultimate in partici Every novel by Nick Harkaway is different, and Gnomon (review copy from William Heinemann) is probably his most ambitious book yet. This is a complex, multi-layered book that braids together a series of narratives to tell a story about society and our trust in its underlying structures. Mielikki Neith is the key to piecing all this together. Neith is the foremost Investigator for The System, the all-seeing and all-knowing system that governs society. Part panopticon, part the ultimate in participatory direct democracy, it promises government by the people and in their best interests. It's the natural evolution of our current world, where we set out the details of our private lives in social media, and monitor our health and bodies with devices like Fitbits. People today are choosing to self-monitor and share that data with large corporations, without ever questioning whether the offered benefits are worth the potential erosion of privacy. Harkaway's System is a society founded on the idea that if one has nothing to hide then one has nothing to fear. And this is a system that works, for the most part. Neith is tasked with investigating Diana Hunter. Hunter is one of the few who has lived a life seeking to opt out of the all-pervasive surveillance of the System. She has lived quietly on the margins of society, until one day her behaviour is flagged as worthy of concern. She is brought in for questioning, which in the case of the Sytem means a full brain scan under laboratory conditions. But Diana Hunter dies under interrogation. Her brain print is given to Neith as part of the investigation, to find out what she was up to and why she died.The scan reveals a series of hyper-real narratives that Hunter has used to block the interrogation by masking her own thoughts and memories. Constantine Kyriakos, the wunderkind banker who escapes a shark attack. Berihun Bekele, a once-feted pop artist who survived Haile Selassie's fall in Ethiopia and is retained by his grand-daughter to design a computer game which bears a startling resemblance to elements of the System. Athenaïs Karthagonensis, a medieval scholar and wise woman mourning her dead son. Although each story is distinct, they are linked both thematically and in points of detail. These are arechetypal stories of gods and monsters, drawing on the oldest myths and stories from human civilisation. Catabasis and apocatastasis are the two recurring themes in Gnomon, featuring in all of the narratives Harkaway sets before us. They are the primal roots of so many of our stories. Catabasis: the journey into darkness on a quest for an object, a loved one, or meaning. Apocatastasis: the ending of a cycle that acts as a reconstitution of the world, often enabling its rebirth in a new direction.This is not a perfect book. It's choppy in parts, and slow to get going. Like one of Bekele's painting series you need to stand back and view the whole by layering its component parts. Harkaway is clearly conscious of the complex task he is putting before the reader, and at times is, if anything, a little too eager to lead the reader by the hand, laying out the trail of breadcrumbs to help understand what he is trying to say. And there could have been a much easier story to tell. Harkaway could have used his setting for a lazy polemic about the surveillance society. But Gnomon reaches for much deeper truths about ourselves, about society, and about the impact of technology upon us all.
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  • S.J. Higbee
    January 1, 1970
    I normally read quite quickly – I’ve read 157 books so far this year. But this one took me nearly two weeks to complete. Partly it’s the fact that it is something of a doorstopper at over 700 pages, but the main reason was that early on I took the decision that I wouldn’t speed-read through this one. The prose is too rich, too dense – there are too many allusions and clues scattered throughout and as you may have gathered from the blurb, the structure isn’t all that straightforward, either.It mi I normally read quite quickly – I’ve read 157 books so far this year. But this one took me nearly two weeks to complete. Partly it’s the fact that it is something of a doorstopper at over 700 pages, but the main reason was that early on I took the decision that I wouldn’t speed-read through this one. The prose is too rich, too dense – there are too many allusions and clues scattered throughout and as you may have gathered from the blurb, the structure isn’t all that straightforward, either.It might have been tempting to have accelerated through it if I hadn’t been enjoying the experience so much. Harkaway is a remarkable writer and this is him at the peak of his capabilities. For all the depth and complexity, I found the book highly readable and engrossing. It would have been a real shame to have thrown away the experience by trying to skim through it. The writing is immersive and each character has their own flavour so that after a while, it only took a couple of lines to realise whose head I was in. Essentially, it is a thriller. But the puzzle is far more of the slow-burn variety, which doesn’t stop there being some jaw-dropping twists near the end.For all their quirkiness, I was fond of all the characters, though my favourites remained dogged, persistent Inspector Mielikki Neith whose investigation of the untimely death of Diana Hunter in custody triggers the whole chain of events – and fierce, beautiful Athenais, once-mistress to Saint Augustine, before he decided to become so saintly. The characterisation is masterly and as I’m a sucker for character-led stories, it was their vividness and sheer oddness that sucked me in and kept me reading.I also feel a similar anger that sparks through the book – the apathy of too many of us, the blind belief that if we put in place a whole raft of cameras and electronic surveillance, it will somehow be alright, no matter who ends up at the helm and in charge. This is a remarkable, brave book, deliberately constructed and written on an epic scale. Does it work? Oh yes. I loved it, but my firm advice would be – don’t rush it. If you try reading this one in a hurry, you’ll end up throwing it out of the window – and given its size, it may cause serious injury if it hits someone…While I obtained the arc of Gnomon from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.10/10
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  • Jemima Pett
    January 1, 1970
    I think it fair to warn you that Gnomon is a little like War and Peace meets Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Inception. I read War and Peace on a beach holiday. Once I realised the trick was to skip the boring treatises on the nature of war, I found the story excellent. If you take Gnomon to a place where you will not be disturbed, skip the bits that are too dense for your particular interests in life, you'll find a really good story in there. But the more interesting bits (as opposed to the story I think it fair to warn you that Gnomon is a little like War and Peace meets Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Inception. I read War and Peace on a beach holiday. Once I realised the trick was to skip the boring treatises on the nature of war, I found the story excellent. If you take Gnomon to a place where you will not be disturbed, skip the bits that are too dense for your particular interests in life, you'll find a really good story in there. But the more interesting bits (as opposed to the story) depend on what your frames of reference are, and how much you enjoy literary discourse in your novels.Gnomon is set in a contemporary futuristic world where deliberative governance has developed so far that everybody is a democrat and the System watches to ensure that everyone does their civic duty. Everyone is civil to one another, the system will give you hints on the behaviour, interests, compatibility and most other things you want to know about someone before you meet them, and everyone lives in harmony, more or less.Of course, there are always people who disagree with the System, yet decide not to leave and find a system of governance that suits their beliefs better. Like Diana Hunter. The name rang all sorts of bells with me, and I wondered all the way through the book whether...The trouble is, Diana Hunter died during a routine investigation. The Interviewer, who has a somewhat Finnish name, is called in to ensure the case is fully reviewed and any wrong-doing sorted out. The means the Interviewer has at her disposal is to have a sort of mind-meld with the now deceased Diana Hunter's brain.The first episode seems to be consistent with Diana Hunter. The second is not, and confused the hell out of me. The third likewise until I started to understand what was going on. That's when I started to use the trick of reading in depth the bits I found interesting—like the methodology for bringing down the global stock exchange—and skimming the ones I didn't. The author uses very long-winded ways to get through these scenes. It's partly phraseology, rhetoric, and looping. Philosophers may enjoy it. It may also be trying to mimic absurdities in the dream state. I should have noticed the bit in the blurb saying the author took three years to complete it. That may be why some sections seem different in voice from others. The disjointedness might be deliberate. Then again, they may have been written at different times and the author has moved on. The range of subjects covered is huge, though.Most of the other reviewers I've seen on Goodreads agree on a love-hate relationship with this book. There was a critical moment, at 20% in, when I thought of abandoning it. Fortunately the author finished that episode just in time, and after that, I did want to read to the end—selectively. Do you fancy War and Peace in a weird contemporary fantasy suspense? I recommend it when you have plenty of time to devote to it. If not, well, a gnomon is something sticking out of the plane it's set in, so be warned.
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  • John Glover
    January 1, 1970
    Ok, I will make this a very short review. I don’t believe in giving bad reviews unless the book is awful. This is not a bad book, but it is a long book.The story seemed interesting - I love dystopian fiction, but I found the story bewildering. It is the first novel that I have read by Nick Harkaway. For me this was a very slow read and it felt like the author was using twenty-five words when five would have done. Be prepared to concentrate!I did however struggle on and complete the book after bo Ok, I will make this a very short review. I don’t believe in giving bad reviews unless the book is awful. This is not a bad book, but it is a long book.The story seemed interesting - I love dystopian fiction, but I found the story bewildering. It is the first novel that I have read by Nick Harkaway. For me this was a very slow read and it felt like the author was using twenty-five words when five would have done. Be prepared to concentrate!I did however struggle on and complete the book after bookmarking it and going back to it half a dozen times. It just wasn't for me Lastly many thanks to Netgalley and Random House UK for providing me with a copy this book in return for a fair and honest review.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I know this book would appeal to many people, however, I cannot review on the entire book as I struggled to finish it. I was extremely interested in reading this book, however upon starting it I found after a while I did not want to carry on, I kept picking it back up but I found this story to be overly long and I found it very difficult to hold my attention to this book and for this reason I was not emotionally invested in this st I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I know this book would appeal to many people, however, I cannot review on the entire book as I struggled to finish it. I was extremely interested in reading this book, however upon starting it I found after a while I did not want to carry on, I kept picking it back up but I found this story to be overly long and I found it very difficult to hold my attention to this book and for this reason I was not emotionally invested in this story which I think overall resulted in me resigning to complete this book.
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  • Gayle Noble
    January 1, 1970
    I requested an ARC of this book as the synopsis looked fascinating, and parts of the book were indeed interesting, however, this was lost under pages of information dumping, where I wondered exactly where the story was going. Ultimately this book was not for me, and I think it's going to be like a certain product made from yeast extract - you're either going to love it or hate it.Thanks to Netgalley and publishers Random House UK, Cornerstone, for the chance to review an ARC of this book. I am v I requested an ARC of this book as the synopsis looked fascinating, and parts of the book were indeed interesting, however, this was lost under pages of information dumping, where I wondered exactly where the story was going. Ultimately this book was not for me, and I think it's going to be like a certain product made from yeast extract - you're either going to love it or hate it.Thanks to Netgalley and publishers Random House UK, Cornerstone, for the chance to review an ARC of this book. I am voluntarily giving an honest review.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    Dystopian Science Fiction with a Confounding EdgeGnomon is both high- and low-concept science fiction at their absolute best. At 700 pages, with a long, long cast of strong – and strange – characters, and a winding, snake-like plot that doubles back upon itself and sniffs along the way the rarefied air of philosophy, religion, and some funky not-too-distant future science, Gnomon is an oft-confusing, confounding work of near – and maybe total – genius.It opens as technology-based dystopian ficti Dystopian Science Fiction with a Confounding EdgeGnomon is both high- and low-concept science fiction at their absolute best. At 700 pages, with a long, long cast of strong – and strange – characters, and a winding, snake-like plot that doubles back upon itself and sniffs along the way the rarefied air of philosophy, religion, and some funky not-too-distant future science, Gnomon is an oft-confusing, confounding work of near – and maybe total – genius.It opens as technology-based dystopian fiction, in a near-future world where crime and disaffection have been brought under control by use of the Witness, a computer programme with added technological extras that make the actions of the population transparent and knowable, and thus predictable. Neith, one of the main narrators, is a police Inspector tasked with investigating the circumstances around the death of refusenik Diana Hunter, who lived a quiet life outside the system, as much as she was able, and who taught local children low-level rebellion and anarchy in a gentle and unalarming way. But as Inspector Neith is about to find out, there is much more to what she sees as an almost utopian society, and a great deal more to Diana Hunter, than meets the eye.In this monster-sized novel, Harkaway ranges freely through deep science and spiritualism, the absurd and the ridiculous, the philosophy of life and death, and takes the reader on some long, wild rides through the outer edges of fantasy.There were times when I wondered whether and how he could pull it all back together, but – with quite some skill – he manages to provide touchstones of reality in Neith, and at times Hunter, no matter how far he strays into the realms of weirdness.It’s a beautiful book and well-deserving of a must-read recommendation. But it’s also a confusing one, with several narrators, and sudden unannounced switches in perspective and point-of-view, which makes it an incredibly demanding read – at many points I thought I was just getting the hang of it and was settling down for a nice comfortable, long home straight, and then the whole world would shift again, and I would find myself as bewildered as ever – a delicious feeling, as Harkaway has great authority in his writing, so that the confusion, and wretched feeling of being far out to sea, becomes a readerly rollercoaster of thrills and knife-edge tension that gripped me from first page to last.Harkaway has pulled off an incredible feat of literary engineering, drawing together impossibly diverse threads of knowledge and narratives to an ultimate point that left me stunned and feeling somehow enlightened. Gnomon is the first book in a very long time of which I can say: this book changed my outlook on life.I received a review copy of this book from the publisher
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  • Breakaway Reviewers
    January 1, 1970
    Gnomon drops you into a futuristic world you could not imagine in your wildest dreams!Master storyteller, Nick Harkaway, has created a science fiction thriller, where citizens live their lives under total surveillance and worlds interweave across time and space. Diana Hunter appears to have opted out of the system. She lives off the grid and runs her lending library on a barter system, where her daily life appears to be pretty mundane. Well, that is, until she’s arrested and dies while under int Gnomon drops you into a futuristic world you could not imagine in your wildest dreams!Master storyteller, Nick Harkaway, has created a science fiction thriller, where citizens live their lives under total surveillance and worlds interweave across time and space. Diana Hunter appears to have opted out of the system. She lives off the grid and runs her lending library on a barter system, where her daily life appears to be pretty mundane. Well, that is, until she’s arrested and dies while under intense interrogation. Mielikki Neith is the Inspector on Hunter’s tragic case. Neith is a loyal supporter of the surveillance system and Hunter’s opposite, in many ways. The interrogation records prove complicated when Neith discovers not only Diana Hunter’s memories but also those of other minds intertwined with hers. One of these is Gnomon’s memory. Neith becomes engrossed in the case and is determined to solve it, even if it means putting herself in grave danger. But is it actually possible?Regno Lonnrot aids Neith in the case, as she struggles to find meaning in it all. But who is Regno really and can Neith be sure that he is on her side? Neith delves deeper and deeper and discovers that Hunter has left her a message. Should she listen to it? Is it a lie and where will it lead? Gnomon’s secrets and encryptions are revealed gradually and life and death merge into one another, creating a rich tapestry of intrigue. Harkaway is a master wordsmith and his use of language is breath-taking. Distinctive voices come to life as the characters emerge. The densely layered plot often forced me to stop and mull over events before I was ready to dive in again. Gnomon is certainly not a light read. It is an epic one! If you love nail-biting, thriller/ science fantasy, then this is the book you absolutely have to own. GigiBreakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    Phrases like "mind-bending" and "a puzzle box of a novel" get thrown around a lot - I'm as guilty of that as anyone - but this book is the genuine article in both cases. What begins as a futuristic crime thriller, redolent of "Minority Report" and a handful of "Black Mirror" episodes, quickly becomes something else altogether, something both ancient and brand-new. Think of this book as though PKD wrote "The Raw Shark Texts" in 2017 and you'll start to see where the book will take you, but even t Phrases like "mind-bending" and "a puzzle box of a novel" get thrown around a lot - I'm as guilty of that as anyone - but this book is the genuine article in both cases. What begins as a futuristic crime thriller, redolent of "Minority Report" and a handful of "Black Mirror" episodes, quickly becomes something else altogether, something both ancient and brand-new. Think of this book as though PKD wrote "The Raw Shark Texts" in 2017 and you'll start to see where the book will take you, but even that mashup elevator pitch does the novel a disservice. This is a long, convoluted, confusing chunk of text and if you get it all at the moment you read it, I'm guessing you're either in the top echelon of geniuses or you're lying - but don't be dissuaded. Harkaway has written a passionate defense of the power of the mind, the individual mind, over the power of technology and it is well worth your time, if that's the kind of thing you go for. And even if that doesn't seem like your bag, come for the starkly different narratives that pepper the text: a sassy Roman alchemist who was married to St. Augustine, a Greek playboy financier who may be channeling a shark god, an Ethiopian painter whose grandchild is creating a brilliant new video game, the London detective trying to solve an impossible murder... and those are just the ones you start with, each brilliantly rendered with its own unique voice. This is not an easy book. But it was an astounding one.
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  • Isis
    January 1, 1970
    I think it's a work of art and we are lucky to have him. The times when I enjoyed reading it the most were the longest uninterrupted stretches of reading I had. When I had to stop and start it wasn't so easy to experience the story. It's an immersive experience.
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  • Mia Whittemore
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the idea of this book, I just couldnt get into it, or finish it. The writing style for me made it difficult to get into, and just as I was getting to know a character we switched to a completely new one, in a new scenario feeling like I was starting the book again.
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  • Carlos Diaz
    January 1, 1970
    Una locura metafísica, ontológica, con escenas demasiado caóticas y muchas digresiones. Hay temas distópicos ambientados en una Londres en la que un sistema informático puede entrar incluso en los pensamientos de las personas. Resulta fácil perderse en la voz del autor, al que le gusta mucho escucharse. Al final, leía en diagonal porque está repleto de paja. Poca acción, poca descripción, y toneladas de pensamiento y razonamiento que hacen bostezar.
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  • Tina Price
    January 1, 1970
    Just as I get engaged with the narrative ,boom, the author changes the narrator, the setting and more or less everything else. I stopped reading midway as I was becoming baffled and frustrated. What a shame as the writing is fabulous and several of the narratives so intriguing. I'll return to this at some point!
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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    I have to be honest I struggled to get through this book . When I read the synopsis it seemed like it was going to be a deep and different kind of read but in reality it was slow, hard to get involved in and for me personally there was too much changing around from one character to another and too many different settings too . I did however struggle on and complete the whole book after bookmarking it and reading something else 3 or 4 times . It just wasn't for me ! I received a copy through NetG I have to be honest I struggled to get through this book . When I read the synopsis it seemed like it was going to be a deep and different kind of read but in reality it was slow, hard to get involved in and for me personally there was too much changing around from one character to another and too many different settings too . I did however struggle on and complete the whole book after bookmarking it and reading something else 3 or 4 times . It just wasn't for me ! I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review .
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  • David Harris
    January 1, 1970
    I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of this book.This has been a hard book to review. I find this is surprisingly often of true the very best books, say the ones you'd give six out of five stars to if you could. The main reason is that while not a short book, it's very compact, the very least it needs to be to reshape the reader's mind and make something new. So it's impossible to distil it any further and present the essence.Nevertheless, I want to persuade you to go and get this I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of this book.This has been a hard book to review. I find this is surprisingly often of true the very best books, say the ones you'd give six out of five stars to if you could. The main reason is that while not a short book, it's very compact, the very least it needs to be to reshape the reader's mind and make something new. So it's impossible to distil it any further and present the essence.Nevertheless, I want to persuade you to go and get this book and to read it next, before the heap of other books you doubtless have waiting. So here goes.Gnomon is unusual. It reminds me at times of Douglas Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach, at other times of Umberto Eco. The structure encapsulates the subject, is recursive and ramified; it is preoccupied, I think, by what is real - which is explored by setting up alternate viewpoints that the reader can only accept if some of them aren't, at some level, real.Starting with the death of a suspect in custody in a near future UK (after 2040, but it's not clear exactly when) the story follows the investigation of Diana Hunter's life and death during her final interrogation by Inspector The Witness. - an AI supported nightmare of future surveillance policing - all for our own good, you understand.Hunter was, it seems, a dissident, living off-grid, her home Faraday-caged, her past mysteriously firewalled. As Inspector Neith is drawn deeper into trying to understand her, one question dominates: what did Hunter think she could achieve, resisting interrogation, retreating further and further into her own mind? What was she running from? What was she running towards?The book makes use of several loosely related sub-narratives, revealed as characters in Hunter's interrogation. Living, experiencing the records of that interrogation, Neith discovers these layers of stories. Are they stories true, within the structure of the book? Do they encode deeper information? Are the subjects real (and at what level?)The stories begin as fairly self-contained with their own themes and concerns. Then resonances and connections appear. The separate tales begin to outgrow their framing. While there is an explanation within the context of the continuing narrative, rooted in Hunter's mysterious aims, the stories evolve and their protagonists become something more, acquiring deeper purposes and doing things that echo in the (that is, Neith's) 'real' world. But they don't, didn't, exist in that world, as her enquiries show. Just how powerful was Hunter's ability to fox The System? is she foxing us, too? (Almost certainly).At the centre of the book is a concern with all that data. The System is benign, we are told. It is there for us. Democratic checks and balances are included so that the technology serves us, not the other way round. Yet the result is sinister, Harkaway brilliantly hinting at the doubts that even a loyal and successful member of society like Neith might hold, at the shadows behind the reality. 'All this technology flowed in its earliest days from America. With it came the political and social assumptions of a small number of engineers and entrepreneurs, predominantly male and white...'There's beautiful writing here ('a lonely detective pursuing or fleeing a killer along a film noir alleyway whose shadows were cast not by dressed net-gothic stone but by the steel and glass of tomorrow's Skid Row'). There's humour ('Here I am, a Greek in a sack, in the back of a truck... It does slightly seem as if it might be a very violent Dr Suess book...')And there are secrets. Perhaps the key is a throwaway comment that something is 'like reading a book where all the stories are jumbled up and there's just a line of numbers at the beginning to tell you where to start'.The stories in this book are jumbled up.There is a line of numbers at the start...
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  • Geri
    January 1, 1970
    This book is huge. I know people use the word ambitious, and it is, but mostly it is huge. In ideas, in execution, in page count not the least. I couldn’t bring this book into the tub, I was terrified of dropping it. It was a read-on-the-couch-with-a-pillow-in-my-lap-and-the-book-on-the-pillow type of book. Because I needed to brace it and myself. There were long bouts of thought, staring off into space as I digested what I’d just read. There’s a whole list of things I now have to look up, never This book is huge. I know people use the word ambitious, and it is, but mostly it is huge. In ideas, in execution, in page count not the least. I couldn’t bring this book into the tub, I was terrified of dropping it. It was a read-on-the-couch-with-a-pillow-in-my-lap-and-the-book-on-the-pillow type of book. Because I needed to brace it and myself. There were long bouts of thought, staring off into space as I digested what I’d just read. There’s a whole list of things I now have to look up, never mind all the things I looked up as I went along. And I can’t wait to read it again. And I don’t reread much. There are too many new things to read and to many new-to-me things to read and I’m going to die someday and there will be so many things I’ve never read. But I will reread this. Probably a couple times so that I can get at all the bits. I liked that I thought knew where he was going, sorta, mostly, but then we’d get there by a wildly different route or when we got there is was not remotely like I thought it would be and then we’d be off in another weird direction. The characters…they were real and I cared about them. When we’d leave Bekele’s story I’d be annoyed because I wanted to stay with him and see what happened next, but then we’d be with Athenais and so that’s fine, because she’s awesome. He even made me like a banker! Constantine was funny and real and heavens help me, relatable! The villains were interesting and thank goodness for Lönnrot offering Mielikki a way out, because for a heart-stopping moment I thought she’d be left in the dark and I almost screamed and threw the book.The sections with Gnomon didn’t resonate with me as well as the other sections, but now I think: why should they? It is an ancient intelligence from the future, so how the hell should I be able to connect to it? Relate to it? It is scary enough that the System seems relatable and for tiny moments, I even thought it would be handy to have the Witness available. (How annoying to have to pick up my phone when I need directions/to contact my partner/to look up an historical fact. Why not just think the question and have the answer delivered to my brain!)This book is big and weird and great and now I will spend the next two months figuring out how to hand sell it to library patrons, because how do I summarize this book to someone in the minute I have while we’re both in the new fiction section and they want something big and chewy to read? It is a happy problem to have.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    An epic read and not for those who want an easy, quick read. It took me a couple of weeks to read it completely, though I wasn't taking big reading sessions.It was a story that unfolds in your mind as you think back over it. Which is a bit scary as that is exactly what is happening in Inspector Mielikki Neith's head as she works through the Gnomon case.In order to work the case, Mielikki takes the evidence (which is in effect a brain trawl) into her own brain. It then unfolds and Mielikki is abl An epic read and not for those who want an easy, quick read. It took me a couple of weeks to read it completely, though I wasn't taking big reading sessions.It was a story that unfolds in your mind as you think back over it. Which is a bit scary as that is exactly what is happening in Inspector Mielikki Neith's head as she works through the Gnomon case.In order to work the case, Mielikki takes the evidence (which is in effect a brain trawl) into her own brain. It then unfolds and Mielikki is able to view and experience the trawl in order to determine the guilt or otherwise (and in this instance it is not clear) of the subject.The book has many protagonists, and sometimes I found it hard to work out when a switch between them took place. It is a complex story, probably because the brain is very complex. And somehow this complexity was necessary to the tale to give it its depth. At points I wondered where it was all going, but I think in the end it was proven appropriate. And the end is true!I was able to get lost in the story, it was helpful during a time of duress for me. It gave me relief and I escaped into Mielikki's life and the lives of those around and in her.For some people this book may take a bit of getting into, but give it a chance, you may find it becomes quite compelling, and provokes quite a bit of thought.I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    An epic read and not for those who want an easy, quick read. It took me a couple of weeks to read it completely, though I wasn't taking big reading sessions.It was a story that unfolds in your mind as you think back over it. Which is a bit scary as that is exactly what is happening in Inspector Mielikki Neith's head as she works through the Gnomon case.In order to work the case, Mielikki takes the evidence (which is in effect a brain trawl) into her own brain. It then unfolds and Mielikki is abl An epic read and not for those who want an easy, quick read. It took me a couple of weeks to read it completely, though I wasn't taking big reading sessions.It was a story that unfolds in your mind as you think back over it. Which is a bit scary as that is exactly what is happening in Inspector Mielikki Neith's head as she works through the Gnomon case.In order to work the case, Mielikki takes the evidence (which is in effect a brain trawl) into her own brain. It then unfolds and Mielikki is able to view and experience the trawl in order to determine the guilt or otherwise (and in this instance it is not clear) of the subject.The book has many protagonists, and sometimes I found it hard to work out when a switch between them took place. It is a complex story, probably because the brain is very complex. And somehow this complexity was necessary to the tale to give it its depth. At points I wondered where it was all going, but I think in the end it was proven appropriate. And the end is true!I was able to get lost in the story, it was helpful during a time of duress for me. It gave me relief and I escaped into Mielikki's life and the lives of those around and in her.For some people this book may take a bit of getting into, but give it a chance, you may find it becomes quite compelling, and provokes quite a bit of thought. I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.
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  • Anouska
    January 1, 1970
    Of all the novels I’ve read this year, Gnomon is by far the most ambitious, conceptually and stylistically. Nick Harkaway is surely the intellectual love-child of M.C.Escher and Umberto Eco.I find it nearly impossible to describe Gnomon. It’s a thriller, a mystery, dystopian (or utopian?), literary, verging in moments on academic.The story unfolds through various interweaving narratives (think David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas). Narration shifts through various third person and first person voices, a Of all the novels I’ve read this year, Gnomon is by far the most ambitious, conceptually and stylistically. Nick Harkaway is surely the intellectual love-child of M.C.Escher and Umberto Eco.I find it nearly impossible to describe Gnomon. It’s a thriller, a mystery, dystopian (or utopian?), literary, verging in moments on academic.The story unfolds through various interweaving narratives (think David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas). Narration shifts through various third person and first person voices, and yet each voice is so distinct that you never have to wonder whose story you’re reading now. Tension ebbs and flows, and the pace is relatively sedate, with long explorations of mythology, politics, catabasis, and steganography. Gnomon makes you work hard but the payoff is beyond worth it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.Full review available here: https://infinitetypewriters.wordpress...Thank you to Nick Harkaway and William Heinemann via NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • J Fearnley
    January 1, 1970
    Diane Hunter dies. Under interrogation. In the UK of the future governed through the system this should not happen. So Inspector Neith is sent to investigate. From therein you are on your own. You may be reading this book but you can really only experience it - or not, if you so choose. Many will love the crazy, helterskelter ride it will give them, many will wonder at the time it has spent them to get as far as they do whether or not to the end. I hope that if you choose to read this book you a Diane Hunter dies. Under interrogation. In the UK of the future governed through the system this should not happen. So Inspector Neith is sent to investigate. From therein you are on your own. You may be reading this book but you can really only experience it - or not, if you so choose. Many will love the crazy, helterskelter ride it will give them, many will wonder at the time it has spent them to get as far as they do whether or not to the end. I hope that if you choose to read this book you are the former and enjoy your visit to the fair/circus/Anglo-Greek playground of God, gods, man, woman and machine. If not then perhaps this is a book to leave on a public bench somewhere for another to try.I enjoyed the crime investigation elements of the book as those of you who have read my other reviews would expect.With thanks to Willian Heinemann via NetGalley for an e-ARC in return for an honest review.Rating: 3*
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  • Lauren LaTulip
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Nick Harkaway's first book, the Gone Away World . I also support authors writing more challenging books and am impressed with what he's achieved in writing this mind-expanding futuristic detective novel. However I found the book took me several weeks to finish. If you enjoy near future science fiction/fantasy/dystopia that will challenge your mind and tickle your brain, give this a try, but if you're looking for an easy read it won't be your cup of tea. Memorable characters include the u I loved Nick Harkaway's first book, the Gone Away World . I also support authors writing more challenging books and am impressed with what he's achieved in writing this mind-expanding futuristic detective novel. However I found the book took me several weeks to finish. If you enjoy near future science fiction/fantasy/dystopia that will challenge your mind and tickle your brain, give this a try, but if you're looking for an easy read it won't be your cup of tea. Memorable characters include the ultimate Detective and a planet mind.
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