Scrolls reviews – Entangled

Entangled by Graham Hancock (ISBN 9781846055546)

The theory of quantum entanglement refers to two or more objects in which the quantum states are linked even when they are physically separate.  It’s an idea crops up in science fiction in various forms from time to time. In Graham Hancock’s novel Entangled the link is between two young women living millennia apart but whose destinies are somehow intertwined.  Ria is a Stone Age hunter who joins forces with a group of Neanderthals (or Uglies as she calls them) when she begins to suspect that a mysterious threat is invading her world.  Leoni is a modern LA teenager investigating a near-death experience that she had due to a drugs overdose.  Gradually it becomes clear that the two girls’ experiences are interconnected.

Entangled is Hancock’s first attempt at fiction (he is better known for his ‘factual’ investigations into lost civilisations) and it is a confident debut, but also a bit of a mixed bag.  The story is action-packed, grim and gritty in places and with a number of really interesting ideas, but there are some elements which don’t quite gel.  In his introduction to the book Hancock explains that he has made his Stone Age characters speak with a “modern idiom” as nobody knows how they would have really spoken.  This is fair enough but it is tremendously jarring to have Ria swearing like a trouper and referring to her “badass brothers.”  Perhaps more disconcerting is the rather modern mindset which she sometimes displays.  It does little to create a sense of an ancient world so far removed from our own – compared, say, to Robert Holdstock’s utterly believable Mythago characters.  The author seems more interested in throwing his readers into a rip roaring adventure than building a convincing world.  To be fair in this he succeeds admirably as the story rockets along at a fair old pace.  You are never many pages away from a chase, fight or (in some cases quite grizzly) death scene.

The modern story strand brings together a mixture of science and mysticism as Leoni investigates her out-of-body experiences and discovers clues not only to her own past but the fate of the entire human race.  Leoni is initially an irritating, rich-bitch character but it soon becomes clear that her brattish behaviour stems from deep-seated childhood trauma.  As she is forced to confront threats of both a physical and spiritual nature she becomes a stronger and more interesting character.

Beneath the complicated trappings of time-jumping, spirit-journeying and parallel worlds is a basic story of good versus evil.  The villainous Sulpa is of the demon-in-human-form variety which will be familiar to any reader of fantasy or watcher of Buffy.  Whilst the bad-guys are broadly drawn the sense of menace from Sulpa and his followers is genuine and Hancock doesn’t stint at showing the full extent of their evil.  Several weighty themes are touched on (genocide, child abuse, revenge and even the nature and origins of the human race) but at heart Entangled is an adventure story.  It’s not likely to change anyone’s world but it will pass an entertaining few hours.

3 out of 5

GS Reviewer: Clover

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