In the Los Angeles ghetto of Necroville, the yearly celebration of the Night of the Dead - where the dead are resurrected through the miracle of nanotechnology and live their second lives as non-citizens - becomes a journey of discovery and revelation for five individuals on the run from their pasts.
With his customary flair for making the bizarre both credible and fascinating, McDonald tosses aside the line of demarcation between living and dead in a story that confronts the central quandary of human existence: the essence of non-being.
"McDonald, who won the Philip K. Dick Award for King of the Morning Queen of the Day, reveals the workings of his bizarre society through the exploits of five friends as they search for the meaning of life in the Necroville at Los Angeles on the Night of the Dead. Sorting through five points of view requires some patience, but it is well rewarded. In the best science fiction tradition, McDonald provokes reexamination of current societal standards through the prism of another time and place." (Publishers Weekly)
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Excellent book...narrator kind of ruins it
Would you try another book from Ian McDonald and/or Christopher Ragland?
I would definitely try another book by Ian McDonald (and in fact have read many of his books). On the other hand, I would be likely to avoid anything read by this narrator.
What other book might you compare Necroville to and why?
It falls loosely into the bracket of mid-90's post-cyberpunk sci fi, so Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age" would be loosely comparable. As to why, it's because (the book itself) is a wonderful collision of almost unending creative inventiveness in a near-future projected a few decades ago.
How could the performance have been better?
The narrator...eventually got on my nerves. His normal reading wasn't bad, but he got a little too excited sometimes and where it really ruined it was his rendition of the female characters. All of them sounded almost exactly more or less like the same voice, and unfortunately that voice was usually fairly whiny and (frankly) cheesy. This is a book full of big ideas and audacious inventiveness, and some of it is excellent sci fi speculation, but the way the narrator delivers some of it turns what is a terrific idea or concept into a cringe-inducing "did I really just hear a guy read that out loud in a bad female impersonator voice" moment.
Was Necroville worth the listening time?
Sadly no, but I would urge you to read Terminal Cafe, which is the physical (book) version of this. Unless they've re-released the book with the Necroville title, in which case, read that.
Any additional comments?
Ian McDonald's writing, as always, is excellent and incomparable, but if you want to experience the wealth of ideas and inventiveness that is Terminal Cafe/Necroville, read it instead.