I did enjoy this book. Paull built the suspense well and you did get a sense of the trajectory of Sean and Tom's friendship and the impact their different paths had on its development.
I guess I was a bit nonplussed with the ending. I didn't really buy the climax in relation to Sean and Gail's relationship, even though it was left up in the air to a certain degree. I felt as if, while Sean was doing the noble thing by fully disclosing all the events in relation to Tom's death, even if it was almost too late, I didn't feel that there was any way his character could come back from his actions and decisions. That part felt a bit unsatisfying for me. This is especially so since the issues in their relationship were penned as if they were largely Sean's issues. The climax in relation to his relationship with Martine on the other hand, was completely believable.
While many of the characters were clearly either good or bad, Sean wasn't drawn in such a clear and definitive way. While I didn't like many of his actions and the justifications he told himself for these actions, I did come to feel a sense of empathy for him. For my mind, his character appeared to be a bridge between the very good and the very bad. His inattention to the badness, inattention that appeared to border on wilful blindness at times, probably makes him representative of most of us in society. Deep down, we know our affluent lifestyle comes at a cost, but we all baulk at making meaningful changes that would benefit those less affluent and the planet generally.
I did enjoy this book, and while I know some readers appear to have found the binary of environmentalist/good v big business/bad unappealing, it probably is indicative of a market capitalist society where everything, even the greater public interest and global environmental and climactic health is subjugated to the forces of the market. We can't say it doesn't happen. Every now and then there is a good policy emanating from a country that appears to be balanced in relation to the competing demands of business and the environment, but I would have to say that generally speaking, the balance swings in favour of 'doing business', and wider environmental concerns come a distant second.
The concept of a global and influential group that persuades big businesses to take other things into account when doing business, such as the environment, ecosystems and endangered species was intriguing. This book seemed to be questioning if this is really possible. It was also asking at what point does a 'wrong' move from being a simple mistake, to negligent inattention, to immoral or amoral decision making to straight up criminality. Can a society collectively commit a wrong? If members of this society benefits from the wrong in some way, even when they weren't directly involved in the wrong, but in circumstances when they should have known it was being committed, how culpable are the individual members of that society?
Power is also an important theme in this book. Who has it, who wields it, for what purpose and what happens to those who attempt to talk truth to power? How does power intersect with the questions above?
These were all things that came to mind while reading this book. And as I have said before, any book that makes you think is well worth reading.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book and it kept me riveted throughout. It's just a shame that the ending wasn't a bit tighter (I can't think of another word to describe my feeling about the ending); hence four stars rather than five. But other than that, it was a very good book.