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1409198,929 (3.39)2
"Adam Rubenstein and Sunil Rao have been nemeses and reluctant partners since their Uzbekistan days. Adam is a seemingly unflappable American Intelligence officer and Rao is an ex-MI6 agent, an addict and rudderless pleasure hound, with the uncanny ability to discern the truth of things--about everyone and everything other than Adam. When an American diner turns up in a foggy field in the UK and is followed by a mysterious death, Adam and Rao are called in to investigate. In a surreal, action-packed quest that takes Adam and Rao from secret laboratories in Colorado, to a luxury lodge in Aspen, to the remote Nevada desert, the two begin to uncover how and why people's fondest memories are being manifested and weaponized against them by a spooky, ever-shifting substance called Prophet. As the unlikely duo battle this strange new reality, peoples' happiest memories are materializing in increasingly bizarre and tangible forms, ranging from toys and pets to fairground rides, which then turn malevolent."--… (more)
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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
DNF @80pages
It’s slow going - really vague - heavy on the military angle - none of the characters are appealing - writing style isn’t for me.
  spiritedstardust | Jun 1, 2024 |
Thank the Book Fairies . . . my torture read is over.

I want to thank Penguin Random House South Africa for giving me a proof copy. All opinions are my own.

I don't - normally - read science fiction. I read Jurassic Park and am only starting with Star Wars to see how it goes. I also want to say; I watch a few science fiction series and movies because my husband is a massive fan of science fiction. I have watched X-files tv series, Terminator, Aliens, Star Wars and Jurassic Park.

The above-mentioned was a lot better than this novel. This a forgettable story with forgettable characters. This book was promoted as a science fiction thriller spy novel . . . honestly - I read a lot of thrillers that kept me turning the pages - but I only continued reading this book for the following: The interest in counting a few cuss words.

Please don't think me prejudiced - I cuss a lot but not meaninglessly.

Trigger warnings: Drug abuse, suicide attempt mentioned, prejudice, racism and absent parents.

After reading the first page, I realised the main character Rao is going to climb under my skin. He keeps cussing meaninglessly - every third or fourth word is fuck or a variant of it. He is an ex-MI6 agent - the American government brings in to help investigate objects appearing randomly. On page 100, I already forgot where the plot was going.

Adam teams up or rather plays Rao's babysitter. They start to investigate these objects and talk to citizens - to get information about a facility which they go to. The rest of the novel is a banter between Rao and Adam. There are also a few chapters mentioned before: this is what happened between Adam and Rao when they first met. (What happened to good old-fashion flashbacks?)

There are also chapters explaining one of the character's past - I guess to explain why he is like he is. (I guessed the character by the second chapter of these.)

Adam is as boring as watching the paint dry. Rao as mentioned just got under my skin due to cussing a lot making the story unenjoyable. The slow-burn romance between them is so slow that it becomes unbearably - boring.

Nostalgia as a weapon was an amazing concept - poorly executed.

Interesting tidbits: I am approximating these because I may have miscounted by ranting to my husband about how horrible this book is.

Fuck and all its variants - 404 times
Cunt - 13 times
Shit and all its variants - 140 times

To me, it felt Rao's complete vocabulary existed by these three words. Other cuss words are visible in the novel, but these take the cake. I also felt the book could have done 280 pages less than it is. ( )
  Aya666 | May 16, 2024 |
I’ve seen this described as an Inception AU with the serial numbers filed off, which was honestly why I gave it a chance, but unless there’s some identifiable fanon I’m missing, it’s really just trope-adjacent: Sunil, an eerily talented fuckup, is protected by a supercompetent American soldier who is, on the inside, at least as much of a hot mess. Here, Sunil’s talent is the preternatural ability to tell whether someone is telling the truth—actually, it’s worse than that, which he only partially hides: he can assess the truth value of any statement, regardless of whether anyone in the room knows the answer. But he’s, uniquely, never been able to tell if Adam is lying. The military only knows about the lie detector part, which is how he acquired a bunch of his trauma: he was sent to Afghanistan and watched a whole bunch of people get tortured; the interrogators didn’t want to hear that their victims didn’t know anything. Anyway, this is all backstory to the main plot, which is that an American government contractor’s experiment with a psychoactive substance goes very wrong, leading victims to manifest objects that then make them catatonic with a kind of horrific nostalgia. Sunil might be the only one who can figure it out, but will he and Adam ever admit their feelings for each other? (This is why it feels so fannish: lots of mutual pining and wordlessness, and we mostly have to take on faith that they are MFEO. To be absolutely clear, I am fine with this!) ( )
  rivkat | Apr 11, 2024 |
Ultimately despite all the bells and whistles this is a homosexual love story.. On the surface the novel is about a substance called prophet that when it enters a person forces them to be nostalgic to the point of bringing back items from their past (in particular old toys). The two main characters Adam and Rao are working with this substance and Rao has the ability to drain people of prophet and it seems to have no effect on him. As stated, a sexual tension grows between Adam and Rao. ( )
  muddyboy | Mar 10, 2024 |
And my reading for 2024 was going so well! Great concept - a sinister chemical that induces 'nostalgia' and causes people to create physical replicas of beloved possessions - but the writing is only good for inducing narcolepsy. And the main characters are themselves stock fan fiction fodder - fill in the blanks, any 'odd couple' works - I tried swapping Rao and Rubenstein out for Kirk and Spock, but I was still deathly bored by the interminable deep and meaningfuls and started skipping whole 'empty' chapters. Also, Rao's habit of calling Adam 'love', which is either a posh term of endearment or a colloquial pet name for women and children, was deeply irritating.

I can well sympathise with all the DNFs and only wish I hadn't wasted so much of my own time ploughing through to the end. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Feb 14, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
...a fast-paced techno-thriller, with a high body count, zippy dialogue and an intriguing central mystery....

H Is for Highly Recommended.
added by karenb | editThe Guardian, Adam Roberts (Aug 23, 2023)
 

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Helen Macdonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blaché, Sinmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Adam Rubenstein and Sunil Rao have been nemeses and reluctant partners since their Uzbekistan days. Adam is a seemingly unflappable American Intelligence officer and Rao is an ex-MI6 agent, an addict and rudderless pleasure hound, with the uncanny ability to discern the truth of things--about everyone and everything other than Adam. When an American diner turns up in a foggy field in the UK and is followed by a mysterious death, Adam and Rao are called in to investigate. In a surreal, action-packed quest that takes Adam and Rao from secret laboratories in Colorado, to a luxury lodge in Aspen, to the remote Nevada desert, the two begin to uncover how and why people's fondest memories are being manifested and weaponized against them by a spooky, ever-shifting substance called Prophet. As the unlikely duo battle this strange new reality, peoples' happiest memories are materializing in increasingly bizarre and tangible forms, ranging from toys and pets to fairground rides, which then turn malevolent."--

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