Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: "Your Face Tomorrow Vol 1. : Fever and Spear" by Javier Marias

I really hate to give a subpar review for a novel by Javier Marias, especially one that is supposedly his magnum opus. I loved his breakthrough novel, All Souls, a rare campus novel without any condescension, and his novel A Heart So White, while lacking interesting plot elements, was a feast of funny quips and delightful prose. But after finishing the first novel in his Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, Fever and Spear, I am left shaking my head and a little tired trying to mine the book’s density. I still feel Marias is one of world literature’s unsung heroes, producing accessible works of fiction that challenge the reader but never bullies them, even with books like this. He is obsessed with the past, and the ways in which our words can rewrite to fit whatever notion makes us feel better. This novel is no different, although its intent is never entirely clear. Its focus, and the focus of two subsequent novels, is Jacob Deza, a kind of personality hacker: he is able to look past the masks people put on in everyday life, and tell if what they are saying is not only the truth, but also sincere, a kind of safecracker with honesty and emotion. He is brought into to a secret government sect from his native Spain by Peter Wheeler, an old gentleman who seems to match Deza in knowledge. Along with a doctor named Tupra, Wheeler allows Deza to use his skills for the government, with eye-opening, sometimes nefarious results. The problem with this book is how it switches timeframes so quickly without indication. And this is not helped by Marias prose this time, at its maximum density, making it hard to decipher what is going on. The one bright spot is the conversations had between Wheeler and Deza, which feel like they are being had by two people who only understand one another. By no means a bad book, the flaws I see may be remedied by the next installments, so I hope this is just a great story trying to gain its wings. 
Rating: 3/5

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