RaveTimes Literary Supplement (UK)Barrett shows throughout these stories people’s capacity for care and cruelty, and their tendency to veer from one to the other ... Comedy gives variety to the collection ... There is a pleasurable coherence of style and content ... Even though we rarely enter their internal worlds, Colin Barrett conjures interiority through his linguistic precision and attention to external detail, so that each story lingers in the mind and haunts its successors.
MixedThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)...formal experimentation abounds: changing fonts, irregular paragraphing and a whole chapter that repeats one phrase for four pages. The upshot can be confusing. VanderMeer can be prone to overwriting – and overexplaining – too ... The natural and spiritual world cohabits and clashes with the scientifically crafted and synthetic one, but they can often seem indistinguishable. Underpinning it all is an attempt to return our focus to the precarious wonder of the natural world, as we become aware of our mistreatment of it and the resultant catastrophic direction it is taking ... This is neither a utopia nor a dystopia but an imaginative extension of catastrophes we know. VanderMeer presents us with a bizarre world, and it is the reader’s process of discovery to find the familiar within it. The result is impressive, but also baggy and uneven. The ideas often work harder than their delivery in the writing, while the Mobius Strip plot and formal experimentation will frustrate as many readers as they will enthral.