Pandaemonium, by Christopher Brookmyre

A school away-weekend at an outdoor activity centre is supposed to provide the opportunity for students and teachers to have some space after the murder of one pupil by another. But the centre is located right next door to a secret MoD establishment where a research project has uncovered something that's causing big ructions between representatives of the science, military and church communities.

The science-fiction element makes this a bit different from his other stories: while all of the books are a bit far-fetched, they all are set in the same world I live in. This had more of a Stephen King type feel to it, and I'm not sure I liked it so much for this reason.

The sections with the school were more standard Brookmyre; the science bits were necessary for the story but felt less fun - there was a bit too much exposition, which, while interesting, slowed things down a bit. The ideas he had were interesting, but I think they belonged in a different kind of book.

There were some discussions on faith and religion, and for most of the book I thought he handled this very well: the arguments for and against were balanced, and I was rather surprised at how little he took the opportunity to ridicule the idea of organised religion. So it was a bit disappointing that he didn't finish the book with a degree of ambiguity and unresolvedness. As it was, an "explanation" of sorts was provided which I think rather spoiled it.

There was also a fair amount of science, and from what I could tell, this all seemed pretty well informed. But what I think I want from this kind of book is more the kids-mucking-about stuff rather than the vatican-versus-scientist plot.

So I did enjoy it, but I think I prefer his "standard" books.

Completed : 27-Feb-2011

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