Book Review · reading · science fiction

Book Review: Quarantine by Greg Egan

Blurb from GoodReads:

It causes riots and religions. It has people dancing in the streets and leaping off skyscrapers. And it’s all because of the impenetrable gray shield that slid into place around the solar system on the night of November 15, 2034.

Some see the bubble as the revenge of an insane God. Some see it as justice. Some even see it as protection. But one thing is for certain — now there is the universe, and the earth. And never the twain shall meet.

Or so it seems. Until a bio-enhanced PI named Nick Stavrianos takes on a job for an anonymous client: find a girl named Laura who disappeared from a mental institution by the most direct possible method — walking through the walls.

I gave Quarantine three stars on GoodReads. This book was okay, but it didn’t grab me that much and I will never reread.

The main character, Nick, is a PI. He used to be a cop, but now is a PI. He left after his wife  died when his house was destroyed by a terrorist group.

It begins with him hired to find a woman missing from one of those place that takes care of those so mentally challenged they cannot care for themselves. I thought it was going to be a mystery in a science fiction setting.

Sadly, Nick solved the mystery relatively quickly. I wish it had gone on longer, but it didn’t.

I almost bounced off the long explanation of the world rules – what the science is, how it affects life and so on. The writer brought Nick’s past experiences into it, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The science eventually involves quantum mechanics and brain mods.

I am not that into quantum mechanics, but the idea of brain mods is fascinating. Our hero has a brain mod that keeps him from distraction, keeps from feeling anything and others. He even has a mod of his dead wife, to keep him from grief. She pops up at odd moments. (As a side note, if you could have any character as a brain mod and have it show up at odd moments in your life, who would it be?)

So Nick gets caught by the villains and they put a loyalty mod on him. So he basically can’t betray them and can’t save the kidnapped woman.

He – and everyone else the villains have saddled with a loyalty mod – decide no one else can be as loyal to the thing than them, because no one else has a loyalty mod. So there. Lots of mental gymnastics in this and I loved it. This was my favorite part of the book.

The end was a bit odd. It sounds like Nick ends up in a refugee camp. The world is torn apart, under the weight of the quantum mechanics brain mod (that is what the villains were researching). Lots of people in this city end up with it, willing or no, and it rocks the world.

In terms of character arc, there really isn’t one. So that’s a zero. But the plot is interesting. It was a little meh for me, but if you like hard science fiction based on quantum mechanics, this is for you.