‘Quantum Thief’: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

In any heist situation, it helps if you have wings.

In any heist situation, it helps if you have wings.

In The Girl Next Door, when Kelly asks Matthew if the juice is worth the squeeze, he wants to know if Matthew is ready to face the repercussions of his actions, and if those repercussions are worth the end result.

With regards to The Quantum Thief, I ask the same question with a slightly different meaning. Is the juice – the reward of finishing the complex, fast-paced novel – worth the squeeze – the fact that the complexity is almost mind-boggling in the early chapters of the book?

Part of the brilliance of The Quantum Thief is its speed. The Mars-based heist perpetrated by scoundrel/thief Jean Le Flambeur at the behest of the Oori warrior Mieli is grand, fun and brilliant. It’s hard not to get swept up in it.

Actually, I take that back. It is kind of hard to get caught up in it. Know what a gevulot is? Tzaddikim? Sobornost? You won’t, at least at first. And author Hannu Rajaniemi isn’t big with the explanations, instead expecting you to go along for the ride and figure it out as the novel unfolds.

An appendix, glossary or something would have been nice, akin to what was added to the end of A Clockwork Orange. A reviewer over at the Speculative Scotsman admits that while normally he hates that sort of thing, he’d have been consulting it throughout the entirety of the book.

In the end, the juice was worth it for me. I found it to a be a simultaneously confusing and fun experience, and I look forward to reading Rajaniemi’s next tale of Jean’s exploits.

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