Post Script: Amnesia – Peter Carey

 Not a read for me.

Amnesia; Peter Carey

Amnesia; Peter Carey



Peter Carey

Hamish Hamilton

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9781926428604



It was a spring evening in Washington DC; a chilly autumn morning in Melbourne; it was exactly 22.00 Greenwich Mean Time when a worm entered the computerised control systems of hundreds of Australian prisons and released the locks in many places of incarceration, some of which the hacker could not have known existed.


Because Australian prison security was, in the year 2010, mostly designed and sold by American corporations the worm immediately infected 117 US federal correctional facilities, 1,700 prisons, and over 3,000 county jails. Wherever it went, it traveled underground, in darkness, like a bushfire burning in the roots of trees. Reaching its destinations it announced itself: THE CORPORATION IS UNDER OUR CONTROL. THE ANGEL DECLARES YOU FREE.


Has a young Australian woman declared cyber war on the United States? Or was her Angel Worm intended only to open the prison doors of those unfortunates detained by Australia’s harsh immigration policies? Did America suffer collateral damage? Is she innocent? Can she be saved?


Peter Carey’s masterful new novel, AMNESIA.


My View:

It took me a little time to engage with this narrative – I thought the first few chapters were rather hard work and I felt a bit mislead by the blurb (which purported a tale about espionage and cyber terrorism – when ok – that was in the mix but not really not the main emphasis of the book, not what I thought this book was about) and the recommendation on the cover by Carmen Callil says:”…I laughed and laughed, too.” Sorry I saw this as rather a bleak and down beat narrative, and definitely no sense of humour deployed here, no ray of sunshine at all. So I was confused, this was not the book I was expecting.

The intro was laboured… then it started to flow… a little. But did not engage me.

I think that Carey used this narrative to remark on a few contemporary issues- the power of the press, freedom of speech/print, commentary on the White Australia policy and its wider effect on the community, racial prejudice in general, bullying and relationships. Mostly however I felt cheated; the writing was down beat, the characters weren’t very likable and narrative had no uplifting moments and was not the book I thought I was going to be reading. On the positive side – this is the first book by Carey that I have read where the book reads as the words are typed – I didn’t have to try and work out hidden meanings, metaphors; visual or otherwise- it was what is was – I think, maybe… or did I miss something? This one was not for me.


8 thoughts on “Post Script: Amnesia – Peter Carey

  1. Oh, sorry to hear that this one didn’t do it for you, Carol. I And for people who do like those themes in the blurb, it could’ve been great. Just goes to show you about blurbs I suppose… From your (fine) review, I don’t think it’s my cuppa, either.

    • Thanks Margot – as I just commented to FF on her review of The Foundlings, Life is too short for average reads:) But lots of people liked this book, bought this book…lots didn’t…at least I am not alone with my experience. It is short listed for The Indie Awards – the only reason I picked the book up.

  2. This book seems like it had so much promise, but after reading your review (and a couple of others), it seems like it turned out to be a disappointment. What a shame.

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