Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

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Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: When Harrison moves to a new town, things are bad enough having to make new friends and bed into a new school, without the cult-like tendency of the locals and sea monsters off the coast. Join him in an adventure that will have your phantom limbs tingling.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 352 Date: March 2015
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783297641

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You should never judge a book by its cover, or an author from their back catalogue. Whilst some writers will produce the same sort of adventure over and over again, with the same characters in the same world; others are more like a bag of literal allsorts. A novelist may produce one book that is a satirical and adult; just don’t assume that the next will be the same. In fact, this could be a book from the same publisher, with the same look and feel, but actually be a young adult novel in disguise…

Harrison Harrison, or Harrison Squared as he is known to his family, has moved with his mother to a remote seaside town. If leaving all his pals behind was not penance enough, the new school seems to have cult like tendencies and a bottomless looking pit that they call a swimming pool. Harrison could probably handle this if his leg had not been eaten 10 years earlier by a giant squid giving him a fear of water. He has learned to pay attention to his phantom limb when it starts to itch – and this new town his giving him the mother lode of pins and needles.

The age of a book’s protagonist can play a crucial role in how it feels; a reader is likely to place their own prejudices onto the character - old, young, male, female etc. The Catcher in the Rye shows us that a young protagonist does not mean that the book has to feel like it was written for teenagers, but Harrison Squared is no Catcher. In fact, it is more of Young Bond, but with more tentacles. Despite Daryl Gregory’s earlier work being adult fiction, Harrison Squared feels very much like it is for the juvenile audience. The relationships between the school children and the lack of coarse language are only two of the obvious flags.

Harrison Squared also feels a little naïve in terms of style. It has the troubled young man at the centre that was a staple for young adult books throughout the 90s; I found them hard to relate to then and still do now. My teenage days were basically pretty blissful, involving less angst and more X Files. In this novel you get a hot headed lead that runs into danger with little thought, this can lead to some exciting action, but for anyone over 20 years old, you may start to question Harrison’s mental state. There is being angry and then there is being to the furious to the point of psychosis.

For a junior reader picking up Harrison Squared knowing that it was aimed at their age group, there is some fun to be had. The idea of sea creatures and a secret magical war is well worn, but fun none the less. However, even if the book is sold to teenagers it is not quite up to the standard of the best work on offer in the genre – Carl Hiaasen is able to do teenage angst better, whilst the likes of Philip Reeve are able to create more intriguing worlds. Harrison Squared is a book that sits somewhere in between these two stools, not quite good enough to appeal to the high school drama fans or the science fiction lovers. Adults who pick up the book by accident will be particularly let down by the naïve writing and young characters – especially when compared to the likes of Gregory’s earlier sublime Afterparty.

Want to read some of Gregory’s adult science fiction? Try Afterparty. For some juvenile literature that handles the teenage voice better, check out Scat by Carl Hiaasen.

Buy Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory at Amazon.com.


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