Towers by Matthew Bryant

Towers  - Matthew  Bryant

As I posted in an earlier progress update, this is a drug-fuelled future dystopian Mission Impossible. Or maybe Jason Bourne. It's seriously full of action, and mostly not the "skim over until the plot starts again" kind, it's very readable. It has a very cyberpunk feel, but without the cyber, so I'm not sure what to call that. Futurepunk? Drugpunk? Whatever it is, I like it.


Heath Fallows is a thief and an addict, hooked on a drug called Senseless that gives the user immunity to pain and fear. The result is that most people kill themselves the first time they try it, doing something ridiculously fatal, but he's not most people. Heath grew up rough, left home for the streets young, and he's savvy, but that doesn't stop him getting into plenty of trouble. He's in love with a girl he knows is too good for him, and seems to have really annoyed just the wrong people - who might not actually be people at all.


This is a rare thing, a book that can stand entirely alone, even though by the end of it, I had little more idea about the world than when I started it. There's so much hinted that could become the starter for another book, and indeed there are sequels, but this story is also has a strong ending of it's own. The characterisation of the main character was so well drawn I really only cared that he got through the next bit of drama in one piece, and how.


The writing itself is very strong. At one point, our hero gets stuck gambling to get out of a shady deal gone wrong, and the stakes are his life. For entertainment, he and three other "players" are giving a strong hallucinatory drug, and they're out if they scream. Or die. And since "out" means indentured servitude to some a very unpleasant and sadistic body-mod sex cult, he really can't afford to lose. But his mental running commentary of what he's seeing as he's utterly high, are hilarious.


"A contestant has stepped outside of his circle and is sprinting around the arena, squealing in some alien tongue.  At first I assume that it’s from the giant scorpions on his back, poor bastard, but no sooner does he begin to scream the word, “Fire”, then he ignites into flames.  Long tendrils of red, orange, yellow, blue, black, aquamarine, fuscha, and the number seven stretch out behind him, performing a seductive dance meant to charm snakes and marsupials alike."


"It must be round three.  At this point, the drink tastes like words.  Nice words, like ‘frugal’ or ‘peninsula’.  No four-letter words for sure."


I'm not sure really what else to say, you'll either love this or hate it, I think. I loved it.