Book Review: End of the World Blues - Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Publisher: Gollancz
Author: Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Edition released: 2006
ISBN: 978-0-5750-7953-3
342 pages
Reviewed by: Adam Donnison

Neiji is a young schoolgirl who has $15 million in stolen currency locked in a railway locker, and Neiji needs to hide herself. Neiji takes on the role of a cosplay - a costumed play gang member, and becomes Lady Neku. Neku is sleeping rough in the Roppongi district and takes a liking to Kit Nouveau - a British army deserter that has made a life for himself in Tokyo running a flea-bit bar. Mind you, Kit just sees her as a kid in trouble who needs a coffee.

Kit is married to a sado-masochistic ceramic artist, and is having an affair with the wife of a local Yakuza crime lord, while ostensibly teaching her English. When the affair is discovered the already tattered fragments of Kit's life start to blow apart.

Neku manages to save Kit's life twice in quick succession, once when a Yakuza hit man takes action into his own hands and another when Kit's bar is blown apart, killing his wife Yoshi.

Kit is persuaded to return the England to find the truth about his former girlfriend's death, and Neku follows along. Kit falls into a maelstrom of intrigue and danger, and Neku gets caught up as well.

Neku however, is not your average schoolgirl. Coming from the far future where the world has dropped into decay and tribalism, Neku is linked to the past and Kit by a simple object that may contain the key to her own problems.

END OF THE WORLD BLUES is a finely crafted thriller with a fantastic twist. In some ways the addition of the visitor from the far-flung future is almost a distraction from the main game, although it starts to make sense towards the end of the book.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood has managed to achieve a balance between action and plot that is very satisfying. The threads that tie the characters are pulled together with finesse.

There is no doubt about the the eligibility of END OF THE WORLD BLUES to win the 2007 British Science Fiction Awards Best Novel.

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