It is a rare indulgence for me to buy a new book for top dollar, but when the book in question is the new McEwan I thought "blow the expense". I'm glad I did.
As usual with this author, the narrative revolves around a series of set pieces. One or two of these don't quite come off but when they do the effect is thrilling. There is also some lovely descriptive writing, as in a passage about a plane circling over London whilst waiting for clearance to land. An extended gag about a dispute over a packet of crisps baffled me somewhat, but it is pretty funny.
The comic tone gives McEwan leeway to include some pretty unlikely plot developments but that's OK. The joky mood, academic discussions and mixture of personal and professional entanglements reminded me strongly of David Lodge's classic Rummidge trilogy, which I'm guessing was an inluence.
However, instead of Lodge's literature dons we have climate scientists and engineers, and it is heartening to encounter literature that unabashedly approaches one of the key topics of the age. Antihero Michael Beard, full of selfishness, apathy and gluttony, exemplifies our apparent disregard for the future which, it is suggested, will bring on our own annihilation.
Stunner of a last line, too.