My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fans of Cronenberg’s films will find many of his signature traits on display in his debut novel: a fetishistic obsession with technology (every electronic device mentioned in the novel is given its full model name and a rundown of its capabilities), a fascination with insects, a coldly dispassionate demeanor, and plenty of psychosexual kink. Unfortunately, where a dispassionate demeanor can set the tone of a film perfectly, it doesn’t work as well in a novel, making it very difficult to engage with the characters. It is to Cronenberg’s credit that the characters remain interesting even from a distance, but while the cannibalistic murder-mystery at the heart of the novel is compelling, when your story is this twisty and opaque you really need to nail the ending. Alas, in my opinion Cronenberg doesn’t. The novel ends too abruptly, which left this reader wondering what was happening. Perhaps that was Cronenberg’s intent, but as intriguing as the plot’s labyrinthine turns were, I was hoping for at least a moment of revelation to bring it all together. Still, I’m giving this one four stars because it held my undivided attention all the way through and even a lesser Cronenberg project is still something worth experiencing.