Vurt, by Jeff Noon, Reviewed by Kimberly Warner-Cohen

I wasn’t too interested in reading Vurt when it was first recommended to me. Sci-fi is one of few genres that I avoid (few novels in that category have held my attention), but since it got such rave reviews, decided to give it a chance. Took the book out of the envelope, and the clashing neon colored cover made me sigh, rolled my eyes at the blurb on the back that it was a “Clockwork Orange for the ’90s”. Twenty pages in, though, I was hooked.

It’s a rabbit hole without the rabbit but plenty of “drink me’s”, in the forms of feathers. Set in a futuristic Manchester, the story is narrated by Scribble, who is searching for the elusive English Voodoo as a way to retrieve his sister (and lover), Desdemona, who is stuck in a bad Vurt. He runs with the Stash Riders, who both help and hinder him, as he makes his way through Bottle Town, harboring an illegal extraterrestrial that he needs to exchange to get Desdemona back; and maybe listening to the Game Cat along the way, who knows all and dispenses advice when it sees fit. The rhythm of Noon’s words feels like being in a rave, vibrancy of some scenes coming at the reader like glowstick-induced hallucinations on a dancefloor.

I don’t agree with the book jacket’s assessment of Noon’s first novel, but not everything published has to be the Next Great Thing. It’s a fun romp, and a must buy for fans of Gibson or Philip K. Dick. Easy to digest and with its quick pace, even I couldn’t put it down.

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