Reviews of Air (2004)
Review by ropie (2008-10-14)
Air is the only book I have read so far this year that had more negative aspects than positive. On the surface, the story of Mae and her village facing a sudden technological transformation seemed very interesting and in parts Ryman's sensitive prose and eerie descriptions of strange events almost won me over. But generally I found the story tried my patience with its refusal to go anywhere. Mae's job as a fashion designer to the poor is not particularly interesting and the author spends a lot of time detailing emails and events connected to this. All the time, in the background, there is the incipient presence of the impending transformation, but it really spends most of the book there, in the background.
Not to say that this is not an impressive book in some respects. In many ways the characters are richly drawn and likeable. However, many of them also display wanton ignorance or short-sightedness and this really got on my nerves at several points. There are a couple of drawn-out love threads to the plot that didn't move me a lot mainly due to the stupidity of the characters.
The ending is strangely powerful and does leave a bittersweet taste but it is a shame the rest of the book doesn't quite match it. I suppose it would be nice to say that it is worth reading the book to get to the ending but actually I was only happy to be able to start something different. I can safely say my life would be none the worse had I not read Air.
(This review refers to the 2004 version titled “Air”)