The Violent Century. Book Review

violent-century-lavie-tidharTHE VIOLENT CENTURY by Lavie Tidhar
Hodder and Stoughton, p/b, 352pp, £8.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns

Tidhar’s novel imagines what would have happened if, in the 1930’s, a German scientist created a machine that makes a change on a quantum level to a small number of people all over the world.  The form that this change takes varies from person to person, but one thing is for sure, these changed people have powers unlike anything seen on Earth before.

This side follows the adventures of two of these – Fogg and Oblivion.  Recruited to work for the British government, Fogg and Oblivion work in the shadows.  Clandestine operations are their speciality, while their American counterparts cavort in outrageous spandex outfits fighting the enemy.

Tidhar shows the grittier, unglamorous side of war – loneliness, throats cut in a foggy street, torture in a prison camp and desperate fights to the death.  These super-men feel far from super, and often look on jealously while the Americans are treated like celebrities.

An interesting take on super heroes and the effects of war in general, Tidhar takes us on a trip through the twentieth century, showing some of its most violent moments.  Starting in the run up to World War Two, it continues through Vietnam, the Cold War and beyond.  At times poignant and heart-warming, but always gripping and filled with engaging characters and excellent dialogue.