Stonemouth is a story about Stewart Gilmour, a man who is returning to his home town of Stonemouth, Scotland to attend a funeral. Stewart had to leave town five years earlier, after he got himself into a little hot water with one of the town’s powerful crime families.
I have read more than a dozen books written by Iain (M) Banks. If this was the first book I had read by him I probably wouldn’t have been eager to read any of his other books. Though there were a few redeeming factors about Stonemouth that kept me from giving it two stars instead of the three that it received. The story was good enough to keep me reading and wondering what was going to happen next, and what had happened in the past. When I finished the book Stewart seemed like a real person to me (I found myself wishing him the best of luck). There was also a conversation between Stewart and another character about how the events of the past could have happened, several of which surprised me and made prefect sense. I really liked this conversation, it was the only part that felt like I was reading a Banks book.
I found Stonemouth to be predictable and parts of the story felt awkward and forced, making the flow of the story choppy. There were times in the story that Stewart, sometimes drunk and sometimes sober, had thoughts about global warming, politics, religion and the darker side of human nature. Many books by Banks have similar subjects as an undercurrent and were done well and flowed in the story. However, in Stonemouth they sounded more like a rant and felt out of place.
The thing that bothered me most about Stonemouth was what appeared to be, for lack of a better term, a product placement for Apple computers and the iPhone. When Stewart loses his iPhone he has to replace it with what is referred to for the rest of the book as a “rubbish” phone. And Stewart comments how he can’t wait to get to an Apple store to replace his good phone. When Stewart has to use his dad’s computer he comments on how it felt like preschool compared to his Apple.
Three Stars but not recommended.