On my last day at the literary agency, I was given a signed copy of The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway as a thank-you present.  It has taken me until now to finish it because it is a big fat beautiful hardback version, far too heavy to take away on holiday.

I’m not quite sure where to start with it.  It is one of the most amazing books I have read in recent memory, and like nothing I have ever read before.  Harkaway writes with such exuberance and imagination it really does take your breath away.  His style is epic and he combines incredible lyrical skill with precise colloquial language to create soaring descriptive passages.  These descriptions make the book long, yet somehow they do not slow it down or detract from the plot, but are an integral part of it.  Without them, the unusual characters who populate the weird world he has created would not be as vivid as they are.

As for the plot… I don’t want to say too much because I really want you all to read it.  The book follows our unnamed narrator and his friends, retelling his life story up to the point at which the book starts, when they (The Haulage and HaxMat Emergency Civil Freebooting Company of Exmoor County) are called upon to put out a fire on the Jorgmund Pipe.  The Jorgmund Pipe is what keeps the world alive in the aftermath of the mysterious Go Away War, pumping out FOX to create a habitable zone along its path and keeping the unspeakable horrors of the borderlands and the Gone Away world at bay.  As we go back into the narrator’s past and discover more about the Go Away War and the origins of the Jorgmund Pipe, it gradually becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

The plot bounces forward at an incredible pace and takes unexpected twists and turns that really took me by surprise and kept me hooked.  I accidentally stayed up until half one in the morning finishing this, and if that isn’t a high enough recommendation, I don’t know what is!