Solar – Ian McEwan

Posted on 22 February 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , |

I received this book in the post a couple of weeks ago, it is an Advance Reading Copy and I figured Doubleday wanted me to read it and review it. Now, if someone’s sent me a book free-of-charge then of course I’m going to read and blog about it, unless it’s romance or chick lit in which case I’m going to pass it onto someone who likes those genres… I read almost anything else so I don’t mind having a go at it.

Anyway, this book appears to have a few strands running through it. First of all it’s about Michael Beard, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, then it’s about what can happen if you pinch someone else’s work and pass it off as your own and the third strand, my favourite, is about solar energy and how plentiful it is and how we should harness it and stop using fossil fuels.

Watching Michael Beard and his life is like watching a train wreck happening in slow motion. He is over-weight, self-indulgent, lazy and has a brilliant mind. He decided while still young he should never have children and surprisingly stayed with that decision for most of his life, with his decision being overridden by Melissa quite late in his life. I won’t reveal too much but he gets larger, more self-indulgent and even lazier, he ends up with several health problems related to all of this and refuses to do anything about them as it’s all too hard. He is a womanizer and can’t stay monogamous.

At one point his professional career is stagnant, trading entirely on his reputation. He gets hold of a folder of information which could revitalise his career and make him lots of money, he takes the opportunity fate gives him with both hands and runs with it. At the end he has an unpleasant discussion with a lawyer and watches his dreams disappearing.

The most interesting part of this book is the solar energy component. Michael Beard is interested in light and the folder given to him is full of ideas on how to harness that light for energy. I’m very interested in solar energy, I think it’s going to be a very important part of the energy component of society in the near future. The fossil fuels we’re currently using are going to run out at some point in time and I feel it’s very important to move to solar energy.

The ideas on the use of solar for powering the world was actually the saving grace of this book. I was not excited by the book, I plowed through by sheer will power as I felt it important I finish a book I’d been sent, if I’d picked it up at the op shop or the library I would not have bothered finishing it. I had no interest in the character, it was only in the last 25 – 50 pages I found any kind of interest in watching the end of the train wreck and finding out what happened to him, I had no emotional or intellectual attachment to him or his story at all. Parts, very small parts, of the writing shone out and it was interesting to see a concept from a Douglas Adams story used, not just once, but twice and then to see the explanation and have Adams credited within the book. The writing itself was not bad there was just no emotional attachment to anything except the solar.

This title will be in your bookshops next month, I’ve seen posters stating release date is the 18th March.

Warnings:

Sex scenes
Swearing

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