Solar by Ian McEwan
Back in February I learned that Ian McEwan’s newest novel Solar would be released in March and I was excited to read it. I really liked On Chesil Beach and thought Amsterdam was interesting, so I hoped that the green tech aspect of Solar combined with McEwan’s writing style would make for a fantastic read. I didn’t not like the book, but I was a little disappointed.
The novel focuses on physics expert Michael Beard, who is a serial husband, cheater, liar and all around unlikable guy. He gets involved with an organization focusing on solar energy even though he has little interest in saving the world. Through a series of random events, he begins work on a solar energy plan that involves photosynthesis. I didn’t care for Michael Beard, but I don’t think McEwan wants us to. The book works well even if we dislike the main character and in a way are routing for his failure. I was often annoyed that things worked out so well for him when all I really wanted was for him to fail miserably.
I like to read McEwan. His writing style is great and he tells the best stories. There was one scene on a train with potato chips that left me laughing out loud, completely shocked and utterly engaged. Scenes like that make me love McEwan and the way he tells a story. But through other parts of this book, I found myself bored and skimming. The endless details on photons, electrons and photosynthesis just didn’t do it for me. Even some of the long-winded descriptions of the characters left me skimming. I don’t remember feeling that way with his other novels, but the two I’ve read were considerably shorter than Solar.
I don’t think Solar lived up to my expectations, but it certainly wasn’t a bad read. I’d say borrow this one from the library if you have some time but don’t send it to the top of your “to read” list.