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Misspent Youth by Peter F. Hamilton

Misspent Youth

by Peter F. Hamilton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Commonwealth Universe (0)

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This is one of those novels that need to be read without any expectations. Knowing that this is the start of the Commonwealth novels, it is hard not to expect another masterpiece - or at least something that connects. The connection that exist is here of course but it is really closer to a prologue than to a full novel; there are glimpses of the technologies to come but it is too early, too undefined. In some cases you can see them only because you know how it all evolved, what comes next in the saga.

It is not a space opera novel as the rest of the saga; without the coming saga it is only marginally science fiction - yes, there are SF elements but at the heart of it is the story of a family. Tolstoy once said: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way". And this novel is yer another proof of that old line - because the Bakers were not really interesting until they got unhappy. The irony of course is that what made them so miserable is what was supposed to make them happy.

Jeff Baker becomes the first man to be rejuvenated - and returns to his house to live his life again. The process is very involved and expensive and the only reason he is the first to get the treatment is because of decisions made by him in the past - releasing his crystals with no patents to the world allowing information to be saved in enormous amounts and allows the data society to begin.

But once Jeff is back, things go all wrong. Both Jeff and his son have issues connecting, love triangles start getting built (and Hamilton does not shy away from writing a lot of sex scenes) and old secrets start getting revealed. Just when you think you know what had happened, something shifts and we learn yet another old secret that changes everything.

The misspent youth of the title stands for all the youths that are lost here - the two that Jeff gets to have and the one of his son. They all make their decisions (even the old man that is supposed to know better) which they need to live with. Or not.

The end of the story is heartbreaking and puts all the choices in perspective, showing the lives led in vain.

It is not a great story and without the looming saga coming after it, it is dated - it is set so close to the current time that it get dates very fast. That usually do not bother me but... as much as I was trying to read with no expectations, they sneaked in. It is not a mandatory reading even if you love the Commonwealth novels - but if you have nothing else to do, there are worse way to spend a few days. ( )
  AnnieMod | Mar 25, 2016 |
A bit light and, to be honest, I got bored halfway through. Kept reading hoping that it would get better and also because I do enjoy the little side bits that Peter Hamilton throws in about the state of the world (politics, society, technology) along the way. However, not anywhere near as good as his other books. ( )
  ballfresno | Apr 4, 2013 |
This is probably, not considering The Web: Lightstorm, Hamilton's most obscure and least respected work despite it being the first novel in his recent Commonwealth Saga. I myself read all the other Hamilton first.

In some ways, this novel returns to the beginning of Hamilton's career and the Greg Mandel books which made his reputation. Like those, it is set in the near-future and in Hamilton's hometown of Rutland, England. However, the usual detailed combat sequences, the crime, and the espionage usually in his books don't show up here though the book does end with some riots.

While he has said that some characters from later Commonwealth books show up here very briefly, I must have blinked because I missed them. Some technologies central to the series do show up here.

Those technologies are tied to the life of the novel's protagonist Jeff Baker. In his younger days, he invented the solid-state crystal method of storing huge amounts of information and, incidentally, helping to destroy large sections of the entertainment industry via piracy. Respected for his abilities as a physicist and loved for not patenting this invention, Baker is chosen to be the first subject of the European Union's massive science project to rejuvenate the human body. And it's just in time too because, in the year 2036, the health of 77 year old Baker is failing.

He gets that rejuvenation and much of the rest of the novel is the playing out of those two old laments: "Youth is wasted on the young" and "If I only had it to do over again." Well, Baker's biological clock is set to his early twenties, and he, now handsome, famous, and rich, uses the opportunity as many a man would: to bed as many women as possible and live out his sexual fantasies. The consequences for his marriage to an ex-model and his relationship with his teenage son are not good.

Despite large amounts of sex, Hamilton usually isn't very explicit in describing the various encounters, only their preludes, the descriptions of his characters' bodies and clothes. And the concerns about family are a fitting opening to the Commonwealth Saga. Those books are full of family dynasties, and readers of the Void trilogy know that one of its heroes, Eduard, laments most the loss of a grandchild.

Like most near future science fiction, this one has dated some already. The entertainment industry, so far, hasn't collapsed from piracy and disregard for copyright whereas in Hamilton's book "pre10" entertainment is all that's really available. Still, some of the political and social problems in this novel's world are still with us - the tax load needed to sustain pensions in European countries, the consequences for Europe's elderly as the continent goes through a demographic contraction, and the resentment of some countries' populations at Brussels' negation of national sovereignty.

Like everybody else, this is not my favorite Hamilton book, but it is enjoyable considered on its own terms. ( )
  RandyStafford | Mar 22, 2012 |
It was a pretty quick read which was good as I didn't really enjoy it all that much.

A great part of the book dealt with European integration issues that just didn't seem to go anywhere. I also found the characters pretty shallow. ( )
  rbrohman | Aug 9, 2010 |
(Reviewed March 11, 2009)

I don't usually read near-future SF, as I find it dates very quickly and becomes irrelevant almost immediately, like a report on global warming. I made an exception here, however, because Hamilton has done an unusual thing in setting up a new universe several hundred years prior to its main plot crux. I thought this was an interesting idea, to see the future technologies in their infancy, in their first stages before they become perfect and ubiquitous.

Unfortunately, while this is all fascinating technically, the plot and the characters are pretty awful. The main character, Tim, is just about the whiniest, most humourless little shit I've ever had the displeasure of encountering. I'd briefly skimmed over the blurb for this book, and misinterpreted the plot. I thought Tim was going to die and then come back to life through rejuvenation. I thought Hamilton was purposefully making Tim an unpleasent shit so his new persona could be juxtaposed with his old one. No such luck, unfortunately. Most of the plot is Tim's pervert dad having sex with every woman and child he can get his dick into. The sex is pretty gross, and the politics almost as bad (my goodness does Hamilton hate the European Union, what unabashed vitriol!), but...in the end it hooked me, and I'm still not sure why. Hamilton's books are like that. They're kinda disgusting and puritanical, but by god do they keep you reading.

And I gotta give him props for that. ( )
  closedmouth | Jul 21, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter F. Hamiltonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There was a particular day which Timothy Baker always remembered whenever he thought back to his childhood.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330480227, Paperback)

It is forty years in the future and, following decades of research and trillions of euros spent on genetics, Europe is finally in a position to rejuvenate a human being. The first subjest chosen for treatment is Jeff Baker, the father of the datasphere (whihc replaced the Internet) and philanthropist extraordinaire. After 18 months in a German medical facility, the 78-year-old patient returns home looking like a healthy 20-year-old." Misspent Youth" follows the effect his reappearance has on his friends and family - his young ex-model wife Sue, his teenage son Tim, and his long term pals, themselves all pensioners, who are starting to resent what Jeff has become.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:21 -0400)

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"It is forty years into the future and, following decades of research and trillions of euros spent on genetics, Europe is finally in a position to rejuvenate a human being. The first subject chosen for treatment is Jeff Baker, the father of the datasphere (which replaced the Internet) and philanthropist extraordinaire. After eighteen months in a German medical facility, the seventy-eight-year-old patient returns home looking like a healthy twenty-year-old." "Misspent Youth follows the effect his reappearance has on his family and friends - his young ex-model wife Sue, his teenage son Tim, and his long-term pals, themselves all pensioners, who are starting to resent what Jeff has become."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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