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Nylon Angel by Marianne de Pierres
Review by Antony Wagman
Orbit PPBK  ISBN/ITEM#: 1841492531
Date: 1 January 2004 List Price £6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

The media have finally taken over the world!

At least they have in the futuristic Australian setting of this new debut novel from Marianne de Pierres. Parrish Plessis, the protagonist of Nylon Angel is an anti-heroine with an attitude and in spite of the pains taken by the author in informing the reader that she is "large boned" and not at all beautiful, it's hard (but unpleasant!) not to think of her as a poor man's Lara Croft. However, Parrish soon shows us that she is not all hidden weapons, muscle and advertisements for Lucozade, but rather a caring and loyal citizen of the Tert -- the noxious underbelly of the cunningly punned "Vivacity".

The action starts right from the get-go. Parrish is engaged in the employ of an underworld Baron, one Jamon Mondo -- nominally as his bodyguard, but in reality she's little more than his kept woman. Having been gang-raped as induction, she not surprisingly wants out of this loving relationship and has the means to do so offered to her by Mondo's rival gangster, Io Lang . The tale follows our girl as she battles across the mega-sized Vivacity, with all manner of elements stacked against her -- the ruling Media moguls, most of the gang-lords, the local law enforcers and even the flora and fauna of this delightful environment. The usual twists and turns in the plot ensue and the finale is based around a parasitical evolution to human biology that is alluded to rather than clarified and which sets up nicely the next book in the series.

Written in the first person, Pierres has admirably avoided the temptation of many authors to over-egg the pudding in the first few chapters, yet at the same time she has nevertheless succumbed to the lure of unpronounceable, non-memorable character and place names. Furthermore she commits, to my mind, the cardinal sin of introducing too many characters, groups and territories in a compressed section of prose, resulting in much back-flicking of pages to see exactly who did what to whom , where and with what !

On her web site, Pierres cites Arthur C Clarke as a major influence on her work though I can't help feeling that John Carpenter might be considered a more obvious candidate -- certainly judging from this novel. Nylon Angel is very close to being an Aussie rules Escape from New York - Snake Plissken (read ... Parrish Plessis) walled up in futuristic USA (read ... Australia) , dealing with violent criminals at every turn (read ... erm, violent criminals !!!)

The jacket copy tells us that Parrish Plessis will be back and once you have met her, you will understand why. It's a bold statement and although perhaps not destined to become a mainstay of my own collection, I will give Parrish Plessis the opportunity to impress me further when we next meet .

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