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Monday, April 2, 2012

Kingdom Come (Liveright), by J.G. Ballard

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J.G. Ballard's final novel before his death in 2009 offers an almost apocalyptic picture of darkness festering in the shadows of suburbia and the emptiness of a society constructed only for consumption. A murder mystery and a bizarre shooting in a suburban mega-mall propel the story, but Ballard (Empire of the Sun) is more concerned with describing a dystopia rooted in the present than in writing a whodunit. The brittle sarcasm can grow wearisome, the dialogue can be unconvincing and the characters are without much substance—but perhaps that's intentional in a world where obsolescence is not only planned, but also counted on. Patches of Ballard's descriptions and insights are brilliant.