I did. I thought that would be obvious from my review.
It was difficult to tell. To me it seemed that you addressed that the book didn't deeply disappoint you, that Harkaway does indeed seem to be a good writer and can do that more than once. I am glad to know that you enjoyed it, and please forgive if I'm just a little dense.
We have, over the course of some little while now, propped up the name and reputation of Harkaway and his first novel. You mentioned that had 'equal parts terror and giddy enthusiasm.' You only mentioned that the book isn't a copy of the fist.
Not in the bad sense of the term. Propped up in the sense that since your first review, Harkaway and The Gone-Away World
has been a rather continual topic of conversation of some sort or other. In many cases, I forget about newer authors until a new book comes out. Harkaway has been present on this board.
2. How does this novel compare to the first? Does it live up to expectations?
I tried to avoid making the review a comparative study. Perhaps I tried too hard.
On the whole, yes, it lives up to expectations. I prefer The Gone-Away World, but I think that is due to my latching on to particular things (like soft style martial arts) and having trouble letting go.
I also think The Gone-Away World had a more unified ... direction (although that may seem like a strange way of describing that book): the British detective story is different from the American (Doyle vs Chandler), and while it may seem like an odd way of characterising them, I think I would place TGAW in the former camp and this in the latter. But that analogy depends to a large extent of you understanding how my brain works, and may be a lost case. While this novel also brings strings together in the end, there is no big reveal of the TGAW type (rather, several smaller reveals along the way).
This book is also more obviously political than the first (while I will maintain that TGAW is VERY political, it was perhaps less overt, and less explicitly tied to current political events). I don't think either of these points are a matter of better or worse, but rather different.
It also has some very different formal characteristics. TGAW was a first person narration tied to a particular voice and presenting a fairly linear development of a life (albeit with the complications you know of). This book has a much more complicated structure in that way (different perspectives, jumps backwards and forwards in time in a way which allows the meaning of events to become apparent in between the development of the "present" story), but because it is a move away from the surprising ending, it may not feel like that.
I know I said it was different, then went on to use almost the very same words to describe this new book: that is due to a continuity in thematic concerns, which I find fascinating (and a similarity in style).
Does that answer your question?
It most certainly does. I wasn't as much interested in a true comparative study. Still, TGAW is a very strong and polished first novel. It has a lot of style. Harkaway exhibited a lot of skill in the use of voice, characterization, thematic development. A debut like that leaves one with the question, can he live up to that first effort. I am happy to hear that this novel works differently, has a different approach to character and time. The fact that, to you, Harkaway delivered another strong showing, regardless of which of the two books you liked more, means a lot to me. I too really enjoy finding currently working authors that are putting out books to get a little excited about.