That’s great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane…
Commenté au Royaume-Uni 🇬🇧 le 3 mars 2022
The Anomaly is tremendous fun. It doesn’t reach the heights if the greatest science fiction, but it is original, entertaining and enjoyable while it lasts.
It starts with chapters dedicated to a series of characters with nothing in common except they experienced turbulence while on a transatlantic flight. They include a ruthless hitman who lives a double life as the owner of a vegetarian catering business, a troubled author, a hot shot lawyer working for a questionable business, a disturbed veteran of overseas wars, a gay rapper, a film editor in a decaying relationship with an older architect, a terminally ill pilot. We are also introduced to two geeky mathematicians, Adrian and Meredith, circling around each other on the edge of a relationship.
Author Hervé le Tellier has fun while setting up his characters, while also allowing some more serious and darker currents to flow. He uses the troubled author to show the ridiculous pretentious side of the French literary establishment. While geeky mathematicians might seem a relatively easy target, treats them with affection, and, indeed, Adrian and Meredith’s first reactions to each other are an absolute delight. I also have to say, I never though I’d care so much about the fate of a pet frog. On the dark side, there is the cold blooded assassin, questions about corporate morality, homophobia in the world of hip hop, and a disturbing section about child abuse.
All of the stories are brought together in the central concept of the book (pre-publicised in the blurb, so no spoilers here), when a plane carrying the characters (excluding our mathematicians) flies out of a storm on its way to land in the US. The problem is that the same plane, with the same crew and passengers landed 106 days previously and all on board have since carried on living their lives for three months.
The rest of the book is then concerned with the questions of what the authorities will do to deal with the situation, how the individuals will react to meeting themselves, and what caused the anomaly in the first place. The authorities range from a statesmen like Macron, to an unnamed but obviously second term Trump, who is portrayed as an idiot out of his depth rather than a malicious nationalist, and a predictably secretive Chinese government.
The greatest weight is given to the individual stories which explore a range of responses, how does a secretive killer react to having himself around? How do those in relationships deal with the inevitable jealousy? How do the extra three months of those on the original plane alter the situation? Can mistakes be corrected with the extra knowledge?
In terms of the wider picture, three possible explanations for the duplication of the plane are explored, although the “true one” is quickly evident. It is here that I had my one major quibble with the book. Le Tellier’s choice to concentrate mainly on the individual tales left me feeling slightly dissatisfied. Not fully exploring the wider implications (even though the explanation is fundamental to the denouement) leaves the book, to my mind, with a bit of an unfulfilling vacuum. Also while I am at it, I didn’t really see the point of the child abuse storyline, there is no depth to it, which makes it seem rather exploitative.
However, overall, if one accepts Le Tellier’s choices and takes the Anomaly for what it is, a flashy, fast paced thriller based on a highly original premise, it certainly delivers. Coming soon to a cinema near you (I would expect).
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