I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Bald New World because a) the premise seemed a little silly and b) it takes balls to reference Aldous Huxley so strongly, and those balls could be either stupid or awesome.
Turns out it was a courageous leap, but it paid off. I didn’t even have to drink my way through this book, it was that good. Liu has clearly taken for inspiration some of my favorite writers, including Philip K. Dick, Haruki Murakami, and definitely a splash of Aldous Huxley, and produced something that is not deformed love-child but well-crafted awesomeness.
The only one of my preconceptions I stand by is that the premise is a bit silly. I remain convinced that if everyone in the world were to lose their hair, life would go on much as usual and we would adapt and adjust. Going by the actions of balding middle aged-men, if anything the purchasing of sportcars would increase exponentially and premature mid-life crises would become more popular – but that doesn’t exactly mean the end of society as we know it. Just more dickbag drivers. But I digress.
Liu struck this excellent balance between mystery, intriguing dystopian world, and Murakami-esque philosophy, and it just works. It just works so well, you guys. This is the first book from an emerging author I’ve read in a long time where I felt thrilled, like the book could truly capture and enchant me and keep one step ahead of me. This is the first book I’ve read in awhile where I now want to go and read other things that the author has done, where I will look him up and see what else he’s got to offer.
So what is so great about this book? Well, it’s set in a cool Philip K. Dick-ish dystopian sci-fi world, so point one for that. And the characters are interesting, full-fledged, flawed, and have a grainy urban philosophical romanticism to them (can I fit any more adjectives??) that reminds me of Murakami’s characters but are more active and less mopey than his. And while I don’t think the plot itself is exactly perfect, it’s written with such energy and talent that it’s easy to forgive the flaws.
8/10 would recommend to pretty much anyone who enjoys reading good books. Bald New World was published on May 30th, 2014 and is available through Amazon.
(Note: I obtained this book as a free ARC.)