Well this really was a treat. After the enjoyably grim Endgame, Marvel/Disney have given the fans a bit of much-needed light relief.
The film follows Peter Parker on a whirlwind trip around Europe, during which the teenage superhero has to come to terms with the loss of his mentor, raging hormones, and a global threat in the form of elemental monsters from an alternate dimension.
Yes, there’s a lot going on, but the writers have managed to hold it all together (just), without wandering too far from the main ‘beat the bad guys’ plot line.
I think I’m on to Lionel Shriver’s secret: timing, research – and sharp story-telling doesn’t hurt either.
She taps into the single fear that is uppermost in the nation’s mind and crafts a story that drags that fear into an extreme reality. Afraid your kid is going to go postal? Shriver’s got a book for that. Worried that your financial resources will be depleted by a bout of cancer? She’s got a novel for that too.
Right now the middle classes are scared that the ongoing financial crisis will render them destitute by the time they hit retirement age, and right on cue the Shriver literary machine pops out a book about a moderately wealthy family that finds itself increasingly less wealthy as the US economy crashes and the encumbent government decides (unwisely) to default on its international debts.
I bought the book because I loved the idea: a failed priest, the grandson of a millionaire, and a geriatric hitman just out of prison. Circumstances throw them together, and together they come up with some pretty odd ideas to scam money out of their fellow Swedes. The book is a good long poke at organised religion, which manages to deliver a few smiles and the occasional raised eyebrow along the way, but if I had to sum it up in one word, then I’d probably go for ‘likeable’.
Hitman Anders showed great promise in the early chapters, but it lost its way a little bit towards the middle. It kept me reading, which is good sign because I’m happy to drop a book if I’m not enjoying it. The author delivers basic but workable characterisations and keeps things moving at a mild canter. He does have to resort to the occasional ‘lookahead’ though, to keep the reader moving to the next chapter. Yes, it works, but I always feel it’s cheating for some reason… Still, it doesn’t happen too often so I’m probably being picky.