Rating: 3 stars
I borrowed Only Forward from my husband for The Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt Challenge clue that involved us reading a book signed by the author. The blurb seemed promising and I was looking forward to it. Sadly, it was underwhelming. I know it was Michael Marshall Smith’s first novel, so I gave it an extra half star in my rating, but it was a 50-50 read for me. It seemed confused, there were moments Marshall Smith seemed to be losing interest in the story which outweighed the good ideas and the bursts of tension.
The book started well, with a nice attempt at Noir-style writing. It was funny and surreal, with a wise-cracking anti-hero navigating a well constructed dystopian society, where technology malfunctions in a human way. I enjoyed it up until the point Stark and Alkland entered Jeamland, then it turned silly, and the ideas weren’t strong enough to really grab my attention. It felt as though it wanted to be a Discworld book, but Terry Pratchett wrote far better than Michael Marshall Smith. Then it turned into a kind of supernatural horror story, something like Glen Duncan would write but, again, not as good. There were some nice touches along the way, but over all it seemed confused about what it wanted to be as a book. I made myself finish it, but I wasn’t really interested in what happened towards the end, and there were moments when it felt as though Marshall Smith wasn’t that interested either. The big reveal made me shrug my virtual shoulders. I doubt I’ll read any more of his stuff.