Martin Martin's On The Other Side by Mark Wernham

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Martin Martin's On The Other Side by Mark Wernham

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: George Terry
Reviewed by George Terry
Summary: A paranormal thriller set in a British dystopia. Expect macabre humour and a wonderfully surreal plot.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: January 2009
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099516026

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Not being an avid fan of dystopian novels, when I sat down to read Mark Wernham's debut, Martin Martin's on the Other Side, I can't say I was exactly holding my breath. It bore all the hallmarks of yet another 'not so distant future'. A hyper consumerist society in which we are born into a 'life debt' which we must work off, and where children are churned out by 'Infant Units' and sculpted into profitable members of society. Throw in a protagonist whose speech is littered with future-slang and a mysterious sect intent on bringing the corrupt government to its knees and, well, it's all starting to sound a little familiar really, isn't it?

Even so, this is not your average dystopia, and despite my prior judgement I couldn't help but enjoy Mark Wernham's depiction of Britain. He manages to walk the line between social commentary and light-hearted satire, and on top of it all he throws in an engaging plot and a captivatingly moronic protagonist.

Jensen Interceptor, the character around whom the plot revolves, is superficial, juvenile and completely contented with his banal existence. He spends his days in the Social Studies section of the Media and Culture Department of the government, checking up on members of the population and ensuring they are still spending enough to be deemed 'profitable'. His nights are spent imbibing government endorsed recreational drugs down at his favourite hangout, 'StarFuck's', a brothel-come-bar designed to keep the populous placated by catering for all their most carnal of desires. Out of the blue he receives an unexpected promotion and is ordered to spy on a sect known as the 'Martin-Martinists', a mysterious cult who believe a television psychic from 2008 was the saviour and that he is going to return to right the wrongs of modern Britain. He quickly finds himself utterly out of his depth, and his comfortable existence of drugs and depravity is shattered as he is embroiled in countless government cover-ups and a conspiracy that dates all the way back to 2008.

Considering the lunacy of the plot, and believe me, it is utterly bizarre, Wernham does a fantastic job of making it all hang together. If like me you are a fan of dark humour and have a bit of a penchant for the macabre then I have no doubt you will find this an extremely rewarding read. It has to be noted however that even I found the voice of the narrator grating at times, Wernham's bastardised form of English feels a little overworked and it does mar the flow of what is written.

Those among you who enjoyed 1984 and A Clockwork Orange will find something of both in this novel, yet it lacks the incisive political commentary of either. This is more than simply another dystopian novel; there is time-travelling, countless recurring paranormal experiences and on top of it all a love interest. If nothing else Wernham has managed to tick a lot of boxes, yet despite this against all odds, it hangs together rather well.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy The Witness by James Jauncey or It Devours! A Welcome to Night Vale Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.

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Buy Martin Martin's On The Other Side by Mark Wernham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Martin Martin's On The Other Side by Mark Wernham at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Martin Martin's On The Other Side by Mark Wernham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Martin Martin's On The Other Side by Mark Wernham at


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