I'd heard of Simon Clark before, but I'd never read anything he wrote until I picked up a copy of This Rage of Echoes. The plot sounded interesting -- clones of the main character keep popping up and trying to kill him -- and the book was on sale, so I gave it a try. I wasn't impressed, but I don't regret reading it, either. The book falls right around "average" on my scale.
The story centers around Mason Konrad, a likeable guy who for some reason keeps turning people around him into duplicates of himself. That might not be such a bad thing, except for the fact that those duplicates seem bent on killing the original Konrad. Mason meets up with other people who have been experiencing the same thing, and the book takes you on a violent, wild ride from there.
The beginning of the book is great -- there is a well-executed juxtaposition between the normalcy of cooking up some microwave pizzas and the savageness of slaughtering an Echoman, as the clones are called. It definitely hooks the reader in.
The pacing fluctuates between split-second fights and hours (sometimes days) of relaxation and contemplation. The main characters are well-developed and interesting, and most readers will find themselves engaged enough to wonder what happens next. Clark is clearly a talented writer, and he does a good job of carrying this story through in first-person point of view.
When I was drawn into the story, I enjoyed it, but there were far too many times where I felt jerked out of the book and back into reality. The narrator repeats a lot of things throughout the story, past the point of redundancy to where it's almost an insult to the reader. Add to that a significant amount of typos (especially for a major publisher) and it's hard to remain focused on the story itself, which is a shame.
The ending was disappointing as well. It seemed like a convenient way out, and it didn't fit in with everything that led up to it. I really wanted to like this book, because the premise is unique and it could have made for a great story.
I probably wouldn't recommend This Rage of Echoes to other readers, but if given the opportunity I would try another book by Clark. The praise he's received from other writers and from critics makes me pretty sure that this book isn't the best example of his writing prowess.
This Rage of Echoes is a 342-page mass-market paperback, published by Leisure Books in 2007. You can get a new copy on Amazon for as low as $4.00 ($0.01 plus $3.99 shipping).
(Originally posted on Helium.com, Sept 2010)