It's no secret that I adore Iain S. Thomas' poetry and, given a disproportionate number of my favourite books are in the dystopic sci-fi genre, this book was definitely on my 'must-read' list, even though it took me months and months to finally get around to ordering it online.
I found Intentional Dissonance a very interesting book - very surreal, very dreamlike. There were some really evocative concepts in there - the teleporters, the ghosts. There's a 'Brave New World' feel about the overarching theme of society being subjected to a forced, drug-induced happiness and the protagonist breaking away from convention, chasing after 'Sadness'.
On another level, it draws parallels between addiction and romanticising sadness, as well as warns of the danger of falling in love with the idea of a loved one and not the person themselves, to the extent where it becomes just as damaging as constantly being happy.
A lot of Thomas' poetic background comes through in the writing, which packs some beautiful turns of phrase and rich sensory details in litanies that still manages to be fairly understated.
The book can seem a little disjointed, structurally, especially with the small vignettes at the beginning of each chapter - some of them felt like they were communicating essential information while others seemed to be extra, world/character-building elements which tended to drag me out of what was happening with the actual events. I may have to re-read to see if there was some deeper connection there.
Add to that the dream-like, post-modern narrative structure where timelines intertwine and the story occasionally gets a little lost in its plethora of extended metaphors and you're never entirely sure what is real and what is an illusion. Sometimes this was effective but there were moments when I did find myself lost.
(A good friend pointed out how she hated the sci-fi convention of Capitalising Normal Words and, sadly, I can't unsee (unread?) anymore so I had to notice it in this book. It wasn't too bad though, in this book - The End and Sadness were the main standouts and understandably so)
It's the nature of Jon's character for him to be a little blank, a little melancholy and perhaps that actually enhanced the muted nature of his dialogue and prose - the third person writing came across as quite detached here. He's the sort of character you associate with your own tired, unproductive days, staring into the distance and soft rain falling outside; not a protagonist you automatically root for, but someone who grows slowly on you and who you regard with a mixture of sympathy and empathy.
The slightly weaker aspect of the story were the antagonists, who I didn't really get a read on or feel anything strong for. One Eye was just a bit too archetypal to be believable (and too good at conveniently carving monologues into wood?) but definitely the most badass. I'm not going to lie though - I was a bit thrown by the ents.
The meta twist at the end was interesting - the whole story has a neat, 'full circle' motif to it, especially the moments where previous side or background characters are featured from a new perspective (the man diving for his wife was one that really struck me).
Definitely a unique book and one to read a couple of times over, even if you have read this before.