“The author creates an alternate universe on which there are humans but also cactuses, like half-man, half-something else – but human. It takes place in a city called Armada, made up of literally hundreds and hundreds of ships tied together. They are pushed around by tugboats. Now there is a belief they could bring up from the deep a supermonster. Basically, they are pirates who believe this incredible beast would pull them around the ocean and they could conquer the world. They had found documentation that the monster had been brought up once before.
“You don't need to read the first novel before starting this one. It is so well written, not pulp; the author is considered one of the top 20 young writers in England. I saw a list and decided to try it. I'm not generally a sci-fi person, but the author writes very well and constructs a convincing universe. I'm about halfway through it now.
“Before that I read John Fowles' 'The Magus.' He wrote 'The French Lieutenant's Woman,' you'll remember. “Magus' is my favorite novel and this is the third time I read it. It takes place on a Greek island where a young man meets and is manipulated by an extremely manipulative group. It includes a psychologist, an incredibly blond woman. The group is focusing on his realization that he has treated women badly. He's a womanizer who has hurt and destroyed relationships. Now these psychologists see him through mythical relationships until he realizes what a jerk he has been, and he becomes a better person.
There's a boys' school on the island where he has come to teach. There's a group of other young teachers who are doing research. They spy – actually, they are part of a secret society of psychologists who began their work in England. This is one fascinating book!”