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Chasm City

Chasm City

Scritto da Alastair Reynolds

Narrato da John Lee


Chasm City

Scritto da Alastair Reynolds

Narrato da John Lee

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (131 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
23 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 14, 2009
ISBN:
9781400179565
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

Named one of the best novels of the year by both Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle, Alastair Reynolds's debut Revelation Space redefined the space opera. With Chasm City, Reynolds invites you to reenter the bizarre universe of his imagination as he redefines Hell...



The once-utopian Chasm City-a domed human settlement on an otherwise inhospitable planet-has been overrun by a virus known as the Melding Plague, capable of infecting any body, organic or computerized. Now, with the entire city corrupted-from the people to the very buildings they inhabit-only the most wretched sort of existence remains. For security operative Tanner Mirabel, it is the landscape of nightmares through which he searches for a lowlife postmortal killer. But the stakes are raised when his search brings him face to face with a centuries-old atrocity that history would rather forget.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 14, 2009
ISBN:
9781400179565
Formato:
Audiolibro

Informazioni sull'autore

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St. Andrews Universities and has a PhD in astronomy. He stopped working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. Reynolds is a bestselling author and has been awarded the British Science Fiction award, along with being shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award, and the Locus Award.


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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    This book had one great thing going for it, I did not want to put it down. It reminded me of some of Peter F. Hamilton's scifi - complicated, advanced science set in a complex and colorful world. This is really the story of one confused man, pursuing a vendetta against another across space and time. The setting, Chasm City, is a domed city on a world with a hostile atmosphere but a strangely convenient canyon that provides easily available atmosphere to those living in the dome. It is also the site of a strange cyber-biotic plague that destroys cyber enhancements or makes them go berserk. Chasm City is a highly divided society - the poor do without cyber in The Muck while the rich manage to deal with the plague in The Canopy.Overall, I found this to be a very interesting sci-fi thriller, with some societal commentary thrown in. At times I was puzzled about why he'd put Chasm City together the way he did and I'm not certain I bought his redemption theory, but it definitely was fun to read.Edit More
  • (4/5)
    I was greatly surprised by the ending!
  • (5/5)
    Loved it! It took me until Chapter39 to figure it out! It’s the perfect mix of science fiction and character study.
  • (4/5)
    the first half was good but then it got slower and slower and slower
  • (5/5)
    Reynolds is amazingly creative,
    hardcore science fiction really good stuff.
  • (4/5)
    Slow start, but overall very engaging once I got into the story. Good character development a nice "plot twist" kind of ending. Overall, an enjoyable read.
  • (5/5)
    After I read the author’s Revelation Space, I was conflicted as to whether to proceed to Chasm City, which is listed a volume two of a series. Revelation Space was maybe the “hardest” science fiction work I’ve read in the last ten years (maybe some Charles Stross works approach it), and the complexity was a little over the top. However, I’d already purchased the first three volumes, so I proceeded to volume two, and I’m glad I did.While Chasm City is set in the same “universe” as Revelation Space, it is far more approachable and enjoyable, in my opinion. Part of this may be the underlying familiarity provided by the earlier book, but it is also definitely less reliant upon an underlying knowledge of quantum mechanics. Make no mistake, there is an abundance of hard science fiction in this work, as much as I’ve read almost anywhere, however, not the the extent of Revelation Space, and that’s a good thing.While this is volume two, and set in the same universe, there is very little tie in with the events of Revelation Space. You could certainly read this as a stand-alone novel, but while it is far better, it probably benefits the reader to be familiar with the setting as provided by the earlier work. In any event, I am somewhat shocked that I never read these books earlier (they are roughly 2000 vintage), as I have read hundreds of science fiction books, and this is certainly very well written science fiction. I would question some of the author’s choices as it relates to life in the far distant future. For example, several characters in his universe chain smoke cigarettes. While I don’t doubt that the future will have its share of narcotics and mood altering drugs, I highly doubt that burning cigarettes in a space environment will make the leap into far distant planetary systems. That these were written prior to the advent of vaping does not excuse the author from what I think it a pretty silly extension of current custom. Other such “mistakes” include the existence of paper money, wrist watches, coffee and leather. Many science fiction writes of even older vintage have done away with all or most of these current items.
  • (4/5)
    Alastair Reynolds did it again. The twists were fantastic. And the character building was unique. While the narrative was strong the characters build their persona with time and actions in your mind.
  • (4/5)
    Very well written. As one comes to expect of Reynolds there is a lot of dimension,twists and at just the right momements, seamless tie-in with other story lines. Reynolds is one of the best this genre has to offer.
  • (5/5)
    fantastic re-read, as ever, the unfurling of how the city grew up is wonderful in it's details, and the stories of the machine race chilling and yet seemingly inconsequential here but foreshadowing the later books in the universes and adding depth.
    The lost memory trick works here as a story device precisely because it is so multi-levelled, not a singular plot denouement.
  • (4/5)
    Tanner Mirabel, who I would deem an assassin by trade, is after the man who killed his boss. As he zooms in on his target, events begin to unfold which include memories induced by a virus which cause him to doubt his mission, as well as his own existence. Plunging into the storyline, one is reminded of events of Blade Runner, as well as the weirdness of a Gilliam's Brazil. The story raps up nicely, but not before the reader is taken on a journey where he/she wonders why they read the novel, or where the hell it's going to end up. I am honored to have finished this book, but I have to admit that I was taken on a journey of wonder, self-doubt, and satisfaction at the end. Perhaps I have experienced the genius of Alastair Reynolds without being fully aware of it. I would advise future readers to keep a WIDE open mind when tackling this adventure.
  • (5/5)
    An excellent, densely-layered, noir-flavoured sci-fi novel. The multiple plot threads were masterfully wound around each other, the setting was intense and deeply atmospheric, and clever revelations abounded (some of which I guessed in advance, but many were a great and delightful surprise. Of course, I probably would have benefitted from reading it in a more compressed timeframe, as I forgot too many details!). I will definitely be looking up more books by this author.
  • (1/5)
    The book opened with a letter explaining, to the newly arrived visitor, why the planet was nothing like the brochure. It was a corny way to begin a book, it was easy, it was a shortcut.

    Having said that it was actually an interesting read. If the author had stopped there and published it as a short-story I would have really enjoyed it. However the book began and the tone, not surprisingly, was completely different to the letter. For the first time in my life I flicked to the back to see if I liked the ending. For the first time in my life I decided I was not willing to invest my time in a tedious book that could possibly end leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth.

    From the ending I can surmise that the hero was not a very nice guy. He did a fair bit of killing, some of it was not necessary, and changed his identity a few times, before finally taking over a planet and trying to pretend he did not do anything that presumably happened in the middle part of the book (the bit that I did not read). I more than likely have that all wrong as I really did not understand any of this book. What I did get was that I did not not like the ending, let's blame the lack of kissing, I always like there to be a bit of kissing in the end of the book.
  • (3/5)
    An enjoyable space opera of the modern door-stopper variety of a la Reynolds, Peter Hamilton, and M John Harrison . The narrator is on a mission of revenge which takes him (eventually) to the city of title. Fairly early on he begins to have dreams that tell a completely different story of the colonists coming to settle the planetary system. All eventually weaves together. I recall only one scene, involving a space elevator, that went in for the out-scaled theatrics typical for this subgenre. That's fine by me, since I found such scenes irritating when E E Smith did them 80 years ago, and I find them even more annoying given the improved quality of writing found today. For the most part the action in this novel stays in one relatively small spatial region for extended periods of time, split over the two interwoven narratives. Characterization is minimal but sufficient. Recommended for modern space opera fans.
  • (5/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Amazing dark space opera, with a story spanning large time period and exploring very baroque places. The story has a lot of unexpected twists and characters are very believable, vivid and evolving on their way. It almost feels like there are powerful, mysterious and unstoppable forces pushing the action forward. The story is about a mercenary, Tanner Mirabel who is on a mission to avenge his former employer. Besides his mission, he also starts getting strange dreams about the expeditions that settled his home planet, in the early days of space colonization. Alien civilizations, memory loss and recovery, viruses that infect buildings all are intertwined to make a great story

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (3/5)
    How far down can you bring the science in science-fiction before it becomes simply fiction? For instance, if we image a world were exploration of the moon never ceased, and wherein this exploration led to development and a permanent society but stayed within the context of current existing technology, is this science-fiction? Or is science-fiction simply described as anything different than what actually exist technologically? Where does a military drone, with A.I. on the level of the most advanced video game fall? Where does that which is imagined in contemporary fiction end and science fiction begin? At the same time I love (some) Arthur C. Clarke novels as much as I love (some) Alastair Reynolds. One will teach you something incredibly important and clever and the other will use every ounce of illusion to provide blistering entertainment of the kind that has every right to be regarded as significant as any SF. Cosy SF is pointless. It is based on taking an arbitrary point in development and stopping there as if no advancement is made past that point. It is more artificial to create Mundane than futuristic because there is no evidence technology will come to a stopping point. I read SF to be inspired with the grand and the yet to be. If I want what is and has been I can read History. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. Solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait until you're sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles, see if you're still so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. A lot of the "I-want-Space-Opera-vastness" turns out to just be a cry for something as simple as, say, Alentejo, or maybe Trás-os-Montes, but painted in very big letters and blocks; the lives of quadrillions of people who speak a billion languages are not more interesting than the lives of million of people who speak thousands of languages; for story purposes they're the same thing with six more zeros. Good Space Opera is not so much about plausibility as it is about ceasing to mindlessly buy into tropes that have been extant for 60 years or more. You don't want FTL? Fine. You don't want "Wait Calculation"plot devices in your SF (Sky Haussmann's spaceships periodically receive data from their point of origin with details on how to upgrade their ships and engines, i.e., later launched ships beat the earlier launched ones is a pretty standard SF trope)? Fine too. Are you sure cryosleep can even work? What are you going to do if it doesn't? You don't think aliens can eat carrots, or “ever” live on Earth even though they breathe oxygen, because microorganisms will clog up whatever they use for lungs? Cool. GO MAKE UP SOME NEW SHIT. Stop depending on those old old old ideas as though they were a suit of clothes or a reliable classic car. What baffles me when I think of Alan Turing, is that he wanted to create a machine that could think and be smart, he thought of that in a world where there was none of that, he created machines and started that road of discovery. Today, we have computers and smartphones, and the only think that I find closer of what Alan Turing was pursuing, are the algorithms that detect your pattern of likes and dislikes in a web browser and make suggestions to you. We are so far in having that Artificial Intelligence that still the "Turing Test" is valid. I wonder if he were to be alive in this era, how disappointed he would be, the machines that can think only exist in SF. The same happens with the Space Elevator that both Clarke (and Reynolds) use. In Reynolds' case the stupid first chapter almost made me abandon it. A space elevator? 1st floor: Perfumes, 2nd floor: Ladies Footwear, ..., 5th thousandth floor: Roof top Observation Deck and Smokie Joe's Cigar Emporium and Smoking Area. Ever play "crack the whip" as a kid? A wind storm, even a moderate one, at the base would whip that thing around and snap everything off at the top. Plus. You can't use centrifugal force at that height with the (Earth or any other planet or structure) rotating as slowly as it does. Attach vast ball of string to same? Let earth's gravity pull on the ball and it will thus unravel as it descends? Intrepid astronaut-to-be catches flailing end of string and commences climb. (Where's a patent-office when one needs one?) Nope. The string has mass unfortunately. How long does a piece of string have to be before it snaps under it's own weight? A lot less than 23,000 miles...The original space elevator proposed by Arthur C. Clarke (Kim Stanley Robinson has also used elevators to low earth orbit in his Mars trilogy) has the center of mass at the geostationary orbit. For the cable to be able to support itself and the payload, the weight needed depends on what material the cable is made of. For steel, the weight needed exceed the weight of the known universe, for carbon fiber, the weight is about the weight of the moon. For nanotubes and graphene sheet, the weight is only a few thousand tons. We still have a long way to go to manufacture a real cable using these new materials. I'm not saying SF shouldn't use far-out concepts, but please. When I was fourteen and walked into the Praça de Chile library and saw Clarke's "The City and the Stars" it was the entirely abstracted city that caught my eye. I say nay to the strictures of delimiting. Let that hyperdrive fire up, Buck. Let's FLY...I prefer thinking "Chasm City" is all about redemption to avoid getting tangled up in the details....
  • (4/5)
    Alastair Reynolds’ tome ‘Chasm City’ isn’t my usual fare, but I gave it a try because it was so highly recommended by an old colleague, and I have to say, it made for enjoyable reading. The story is really two parallel stories; in the first, a professional assassin is chasing another man across a vast amount of space, from one world to another, because of murders committed in the past. The world they get to has been decimated by a virus which caused all of the various micro-machines in society, including those within buildings and bodies, to go haywire, and lawlessness now reigns. The assassin suffers from partial amnesia and his own life is gradually revealed to him quite effectively by Reynolds, and it goes far beyond simply recalling forgotten things. The second story from centuries before is told in flashbacks he sees possibly because of the virus, and is about how the first of those worlds was colonized by Earth, starting with a flotilla of spaceships making a multi-generational flight across space. The ships become rivals over the years, there are creepy secrets they come across in space, and the son of one of the ship’s officers grows up innocently enough at first, but turns marvelously dark along the way. The first time we see a character known as Clown advising him is truly chilling, and great.I loved how realistic the novel was in its characters, none of which are simply good or evil, and also for humanity, who we see still being cruel to one another hundreds of years in the future. The technical advancements conceived by Reynolds have that element of truth to them, and he’s highly creative in extrapolating what advances in genetics and nanotechnology could lead to. Unfortunately he gets mired in some stilted dialogue at times, questionable character motivation, and an ending that isn’t completely satisfactory, though one part of it is very cool, and the stories do come together. Overall, quite solid, and worth reading.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed the story but thought that they dragged it out a bit more than necessary. It is a little scary to think that a former FBI agent can go that crazy - and almost get away with it!
  • (3/5)
    I enjoyed all the stuff set around Chasm City: it's a very interesting backdrop for a story.
  • (4/5)
    Nice idea book. Kept me going on to the end. Resolution left me cold though but eager enough o read more Reynolds.
  • (4/5)
    Alastair Reynolds is a tremendous science fiction writer. This book has detective noir, a devastating plague that attacks machinery (including the machinery that humans have implanted to enhance themselves), and a virus that causes the infected to have paranoid visions of a long dead psychopathic cult leader. This book may not have it all, but what it has is incredibly cool.Reynolds writes the science parts with precision and intelligence without making the reader feel like an idiot. He draws the reader in to the story and then mind-blowingly turns everything completely around.This is the second book I have read in the Revelation Space universe and I can't see waiting around very long to read the rest.Great read!
  • (5/5)
    One of the very best Science Fiction novels ever published, this work (set in the Revelation Space universe) is perhaps Alastair Reynolds' highest achievement. Gripping and taught in its entirety, Reynolds succeeds in tying this adventure into the rest of his Revelation Space universe. Small nods are waiting for those who have read his other works, yet his characterization, plot pacing, and dialogue do not suffer. Without reservation I give Chasm City a wholehearted recommendation.
  • (4/5)
    Chasm City was my first Alastair Reynolds novel, and it definitely turned me into a fan. I loved almost everything about this story--the characters, the setting, and the history. There are a lot of twisty-turny plot elements that you might not see coming, and the bits that tie into Reynolds's other books from the Revelation Space universe are really interesting as well. His descriptions are detailed and his world-building is pretty amazing. My only quibble is about the ending--it was a bit out there and just a little confusing. But other than that, I really enjoyed this book.
  • (5/5)
    Though a stand-alone novel set in the same universe as his earlier 'Revelation Space', it does help to have read the earlier novel so as to have some idea of the environment and history. But the story is involving and well-realised, even though I began to see the eventual outcome from about half-way/two-thirds in. The hero, Mirabell Tanner, is a fallible man who has done just that - let his employer down, big time, in his last job and allowed firstly himself to become involved with the employer's wife, and then, through inattention, allowed her to be killed. But things are, of course, more complex than that. The settings are well-drawn and vivid. Held my attention on a long journey across Europe despite competing attractions!
  • (4/5)
    It was worse than you are thinking. If the plague had only killed our machines, millions would still have died, but that would have been a manageable catastrophe, something from which we could have recovered. But the plague went beyond mere destruction, into a realm much closer to artistry, albeit an artistry of a uniquely perverted and sadistic kind. It caused our machines to evolve uncontrollably - out of our control, at least - seeking bizarre new symbioses. Our buildings turned into Gothic nightmares, trapping us before we could escape their lethal transfigurations. The machines in our cells, in our blood, in our heads, began to break their shackles - blurring into us corrupting living matter. we became glistening larval fusions of flesh and machine. When we buried the dead they kept growing, spreading together, fusing with the city's architecture.It was a time of horror.It is not yet over.Most of the new arrivals to Yellowstone have been in cold storage for the voyage between the stars, so their knowledge of their destination is years or decades out of date. They expect to find themselves in the sophisticated society of Yellowstone’s belle époque, not knowing that Chasm City is in the grips of the Melding Plague, and that the once fabulous habitats in orbit around the planet have been so ravaged that the Glitter Band is now known as the Rust Belt. Security consultant, assassin and ex-sniper Tanner Mirabel arrives in Chasm City from Sky's Edge on the trail of a murderer. After being infected by a virus created by a religious cult on his home world, he also finds scenes from the life of Sky Haussmann (the revered and reviled founder of Sky's Edge) playing out in his dreams. It's over 200 pages before Tanner actually makes it down to the surface of Yellowstone, having managed to get himself into plenty of trouble already, on a space elevator, in a hospice and in the shuttle down from orbit. From then onwards, the pace picks up as he finds himself in a warped landscape of mutated buildings, in danger from the low-life of the Mulch and game-playing aristocrats from up in the Canopy as he tries to track down his quarry. From the start I found Tanner surprisingly unsuspicious and unobservant for a supposedly highly trained assassin, ex-sniper, bodyguard and security chief, and noticed a lot of inconsistencies in things people did and said. For once I was paying attention to all the clues and managed to work out what was going out before it was actually spelled out, although at one point I was misled by remembering how Dieterling had turned down the loan of Tanner's night-sight goggles before I got back on the right track. The first couple of hundred pages did drag somewhat. but once I started to unravel the mystery of what exactly was going on, I got more involved in the story, but there were some things that still didn't really hang together properly. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW ***When I read about the ambush in which Tanner's boss was killed, I couldn't believe how unsuspicious Tanner and Cahuella were after finding the imposter in their midst. They knew that he could only have been made to look and behave so much like the real Rodriguez by the Ultras (off-world traders with a much higher technological level than the inhabitants of Sky's Edge), but they just assumed that it was probably a coincidence and that maybe the Ultras had not known that Reivich intended to use the imposter to kill Cahuella. For some reason, it didn't occur to them that if the Ultras were helping Reivich against Cahuella, maybe Reivich's group were not where the tracking devices said they were, and the Ultras might also have betrayed Cahuella's movements to Reivich. If it was me I would have broken camp and moved away as fast as possible, leaving any Ultra-supplied equipment behind so that no-one could use it to track me. But no, they just set guards as normal and everyone else went to bed, expecting that Reivich would walk into their ambush the next morning as planned! Whoever's point of view the reader was seeing these events from, this just doesn't make sense! Someone should have been more suspicious, definitely Tanner and more than likely Cahuella too. I was also unconvinced by the ease of Sky's sudden promotion to head of security and subsequent rise to Captain of the Santiago. Even though he managed to manipulate events to make other people appear to be guilty of his misdeeds, he was suspected, and mud sticks - especially when it happens more than once.
  • (3/5)
    My second Reynolds of the year. After a few months of little sci-fi, I plunged back in with a 600 page space opera set in Reynold's Revelation Space universe.Unfortunately Chasm City is not as successful as Revelation Space or Redemption Ark, the second in that series. R Space and R Ark have a grand, sweeping feel taking in several groups of people whose histories and future are linked.Although it takes a similar long view of history and the impact of long past events, Chasm City focuses on the story of only one man, Tanner Mirabel, who has come to Chasm City to seek revenge for the death of a woman he was tasked to protect. Chasm City was once a centre of wealth, opulence and progress. Arriving seven years after the end of a devatsating plague, Mirabel is confronted with a city of decay and amorality.There's no doubting that this book is as absorbing as the other Reynolds I have read. Unfortunately the story of one man, however complex, is too little to fill the large number of pages and it started to get predictable towards the end.
  • (4/5)
    Set several hundred years in the future, people are now capable of copying their memories to computers, changing their appearance, and artificially prolonging their lifespans. As such, they tend to get bored easily and hang on to grudges for very long amounts of time. This book had a convoluted plot of mistaken/hidden/changing identity. The story was interesting and held my attention easily, but at times it felt rather contrived. For my tastes, there was a bit too much of people holding other people at gunpoint and pausing to explain their lifestory and motivations before finishing the job. I was also somewhat disappointed because I felt like some of the most interesting characters were glossed over and didn't get their due. Sky Haussman's subplot was by far the most interesting, and yet its ending was definitely a let down. Constanza could've done a lot more. And how about Sleek? This psychopathic dolphin barely made an appearance, but when he was first mentioned I thought there would definitely be cool things in store for him. And Gideon? Was there even a point to Gideon's character? Perhaps the characters will have more of a role in other books set in this universe, but in this book they were disappointing
  • (4/5)
    Gritty, fun. Need to pick up more by this author.
  • (5/5)
    I would call this an epic "space opera"; packed with adventure, plot-twists, incredible descriptions and a believeable imaginary world. A "page-turner"; great.Erica Kline, 12/12/2002
  • (3/5)
    Meg Landry's family is dissolving like a drop of ink striking a bowl of water. Jeff, Meg's partner and the father of her two children, abandoned the family nine months ago to work on an architecture project in Toronto; their rebellious teenage daughter Katie has been away at boarding school; and now their eight-year-old asthmatic son Charlie seems to have been replaced by a child who's almost, but not quite, Charlie—like a bad Xerox copy. This is the eerie, unsettling domestic portrait painted in Deborah Schupack's first novel, The Boy on the Bus. The sense of unease starts in the first paragraph: This ritual, her son coming home from school, was all wrong. It was taking too long, and now the driver was coming around the bus. The school bus has stopped on the road outside her Vermont farmhouse; it's the last stop of the day and there's only one child left on board: Charlie. For some reason, he refuses to get out of his seat. "Hon?" Meg started to walk down the aisle but slowed almost immediately, each step smaller than the one before. As he shifted from distant to close, she slowed to a stop. This was not her son. He looks like Charlie, but he's not exactly Charlie. The eyes are narrower, the hair's curlier, the face is fuller and firmer ("a more mature face"). A mother should know her own son, shouldn't she?...Shouldn't she? That's the question, and the baffling mystery, at the heart of this odd, haunting book. Schupack describes the terror and uncertainty of parenting with lyrical prose that falls somewhere between Alice McDermott and David Lynch. What parent hasn't suffered doubts like the ones which constantly scroll through Meg's mind? Is this really Charlie and she just hasn't been paying attention to the changes he's going through? Is this an imposter, sent to replace the vanished Charlie? There he was again, at the foot of the stairs. He shimmered in a shallow pool of familiarity. Or is this all a dream, a harrowing, symbolic tumble down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass? (The fact that Jeff's last name is Carroll might be a clue to the latter theory.) As her family reconstitutes—Jeff returns from Canada, Katie come back from boarding school—Meg looks for clues in the new boy's behavior (that's how she refers to him, "the boy") to help explain where her sickly, coughing son has vanished. Those around her aren't as certain that he's not Charlie. "It sure looks enough like him," Jeff says. Even the pediatrician wonders why Meg is making such a fuss. The boy is enigmatic and though he seems to know all of Charlie's routines, he's not quite the same boy she put on the bus in the morning. Then again, how well does she think she really knew Charlie? Imagine, she thought, children as approximations. Then again, in a sense they were. Each time your child returned home, he was an approximation of who you had sent out into the world that morning. And each morning, he was an approximation of who you'd tried to seal with a kiss the night before. Midway through the book, we start to wonder, is Meg losing her mind? Is this little more than the diary of a mad housewife who can no longer recognize her own son? After all, we know that Meg is "porous with exhaustion. Porous as coral. Sea and sand sweeping in, sweeping out, eroding, returning such a thing as coral to the ocean." Schupack honestly addresses the unspoken qualms all parents have at one time or another. The Boy on the Bus charts that netherworld mothers and fathers navigate: when to love, when to smother, when to release, when to panic, when to pray. You know, the daily "fear, love, guilt, exhaustion, need." Charlie's blurred identity becomes symbolic for all that Meg has tried to do with her life—the ambitions that have shriveled, the goals she's never reached, the domestic boxes she's drawn around herself. The novel is as much about the woman in the house as it is the boy on the bus. But it’s the psychological puzzle which drives the taut narrative forward. As the story gets more tangled and dark with each passing page, we wait for the other shoe to drop. Trouble is, Schupack never lets it fall, never rouses us from the drowsy unease that permeates the book. In the end, we're left with no precise answers to the domestic mystery and while it's easy to close The Boy on the Bus irritated at the author for not bringing the denouement to a firm conclusion, perhaps that's Schupack's whole point: parenting is a fuzzy science with no certain solutions. There will be days when even our own children will look like strangers.