The Artificial Mirage is a stunning sci-fi thriller that is driven by characters, not action. The decision to make the characters and technology-fuelled setting the main features of this book rather than the plot was an interesting one, but I think that it was very successful. When the characters are so numerous and so intriguing, and the setting so rich and unusual, one finds that a lack of action packed scenes doesn’t matter much at all.
I really enjoyed The Artificial Mirage. Set in a variety of different countries including Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, this book flitted from futuristic place to futuristic place with the ease of a mechanical ‘Dragonfly’. The use of gritty, dusty lands juxtaposed with new technology including ‘Augmented Reality glasses’ and a lot of air conditioning units was a pleasure to read about. Warwick really went to town with all of his descriptions. The new technology was explained perfectly through beautiful language; one really got the sense that they were living in an ‘artificial mirage’ thanks to the surrealism that Warwick conveys through his writing. I found that there was a lot of contrast in this novel: the heat and dirt of Charlie (the protagonist’s) surroundings with the clinical luxury of Augmented Reality; the grungy criminal underworld and its contrast with the innocence of Charlie’s old life before everything went wrong for our unfortunate hero.
This book is a real treat for anyone who enjoys a good, character driven tale. The use of rich settings and new mind-bending technology is an added bonus to an already unique story. The twist ending was also a pleasant surprise. The one thing that I perhaps didn’t enjoy as much about this book was the lethargic way the plot progressed, but the characters were so interesting that that didn’t seem to matter much. I was content to follow Charlie, Lauren, AR Lauren, Harold and Stephanie on their numerous adventures without worrying too much about where they were going to end up or what was going to happen next.
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an edgy science fiction. Be prepared for descriptions that will blow you away and characters that leap right off the page. Though the plot isn’t all too compelling, the writing more than makes up for it.