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No Man's Land by Barry England

No Man's Land

by Barry England

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No Man's Land - Barry England ***

Barry England only ever had two novels published during his lifetime, the first being ‘Figures in a Landscape’ and some 27 years later ‘No Man’s Land’. His first novel narrowly missed out on the booker prize so I am unsure why he left it so long between novels.

What is it about?

It follows John Savage, a mercenary that lives with a band of survivors on the outskirts of civilisation. There has been a cataclysmic event that has devastated the country, man must live by his wits and treat all strangers as potential enemies, including the army. Unwillingly leading his motley crew he must choose the safest path possible while keeping the death count low.

What did I like?

The basic story is one of redemption, the finding of a spark of humanity in a world that appears devoid of goodwill. Barry manages to capture the desolation experienced by the characters really well and the action when it comes wouldn’t be amiss in a James Bond Novel.

What didn’t I like?

For me the novel fell down because I felt that Barry was never really sure of the type of book he wished to write. The language used was far too unconventional for your typical action book, and at times slowed up the pace of the story when all you really wanted to do was rattle through to the next scene. It was almost as if he was trying to make up for his first novel not winning the booker prize by placing as many obscure words as he knew and hoping someone would recognise this as having literary merit. The word ‘said’ after practically every speech became a little annoying, as did the at times confusing plot.

Would I recommend?

Oddly enough, I suppose I would, although not as an introduction to the author (seems strange to say that with only two novels), but as a follow up to his earlier book. It would be a shame if you enjoyed Figures in a Landscape to not read his entire collection. ( )
  Bridgey | Dec 29, 2015 |
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