Top Tier (4 to 5 stars)

The Damage Done, by Michael Landweber

4 out of 5 stars. Thought provoking and very clever story about the impact of violence on human society (and the loss of it).

4 stars
This book is set to be published on March 8th, 2022.

If you give someone a gun, expect them to shoot you.

from Malcolm’s thesis

Imagine a world where violence is simply no longer possible. Where everytime you want to kick someone, you somehow end up gently nudging that person with your foot. Sounds great, yeah?

Well, not really. Because that’s just suppressing the physical act of violence. But true violence – the wish to do someone harm – starts long before your physical body comes into play. It starts in your mind.

And it doesn’t have to end with the body. There’s an old saying about bricks and stones, but I think I can safely say that most of us disagree: words can hurt. They do, they have weight and meaning, and psychological violence is as real as it’s physical counterpart. We might call it cruelty, but you know, a rose by any name …

This is the world in The Damage Done. Suddenly, physical violence seems no longer possible. But this won’t stop people from trying.

The answer was that they would always be able to hurt each other.

about 7 % in

Michael Landweber thoroughly explores these possibilities. His cast includes people that are suddenly no longer on the receiving end of this violence, as well as people who would like to dish it out, but no longer can.

And while his band of protagonists seems to be a rag tag group of people, they all serve as a canvas for the reader – or rather: for different parts of the reader’s mind. The part of us that is angry sometimes and wants to lash out. The part that lives in fear on being on the receiving end. The part that hates limits and tries to find creative ways around them.

As you explore more and more of this radically changed world, you also start to think more and more about the implications these ideas bring. And I’m pretty sure that’s what Michael wants the reader to do: It’s not just a tale for entertainment, it’s food for thought.

Lupus est homo homini

Asinaria, by Titus Maccius Plautus

To paraphrase Plautus – you can muzzle the wolf, but you can’t take the wolf from man. It will always be there.

The fates of the characters are interwoven in different ways, some more overt than others. I enjoyed piecing together the covert ones, some of them rather clever.

Apropos clever: This tale is a clever thought experiment. Would it be really unrestrictedly good if violence would no longer work? Would there be downsides to it as well? I’ll leave the final decision to you.

But they don’t matter. Not to you. Not to me. You know what matters?

You matter. Who you are. Who you want to be.

sage advice, 79 % in

After all is said and done, I’ve just read a very clever novel that plays with a novel idea, turning it round and round, watching it from every side. It’s exciting in it’s own way.

Sadly, it’s almost too clever. The constant changing perspectives made it hard for me to catch onto something, constantly breaking my immersion. I’ve experiences many tales, and while a lot of them are interwoven, I never got the feeling that I had now a firm grasp about THE story. The last page left me a little empty. I’m just missing some final piece – but a great read, thought provoking, 4 stars!

Disclaimer: I’ve received a free Advanced Reader’s Copy and are leaving this review voluntarily.

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

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