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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Tears in Rain

Rosa Montero

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To purchase Tears in Rain

Title: Tears in Rain
Author: Rosa Montero
Genre: Novel
Written: 2011 (Eng. 2012)
Length: 450 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Tears in Rain - US
Lágrimas en la lluvia - US
Tears in Rain - UK
Tears in Rain - Canada
Tears in Rain - India
Lacrime nella pioggia - Italia
Lágrimas en la lluvia - España
  • Spanish title: Lágrimas en la lluvia
  • Translated by Lilit Žekulin Thwaites

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Our Assessment:

B- : reasonably well written, but ultimately too labored and long

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
El País . 19/3/2011 Lluis Satorras
Publishers Weekly . 22/10/2012 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "El resultado global es la presentación de un mundo completo y denso que toma un apabullante aire de realidad. La emoción prende y atrapa desde el primer momento y seguimos con pasión la investigación criminal de la detective Bruna, los indecisos movimientos de esos dos hombres poliédricos que la pretenden y los personajes secundarios que nunca se sabe bien qué pretenden. Ahí está también lo básico de una novela negra." - Lluis Satorras, El País

  • "Heavy-handed prose and clumsily handled exposition means this thriller falls far short of its classic inspiration." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Tears in Rain is set in Madrid in 2109. The history of the past century is partially filled in -- there have been environmental catastrophes (clean air is, in part, in short supply) and alien contact, for example -- but Montero doesn't concentrate on this; she knows how to fill in background in the background and not let it swamp her story. One of the characters is a government archivist, and his concern about changes being made to the official record -- history being reshaped -- is one of the storylines, cleverly allowing Montero both to fill in information and suggest some of the areas of conflict that figure elsewhere in the novel.
       Tears in Rain centers entirely on a 'replicant', Bruna Husky. Replicants are human-like but artificial life-forms that are unusual in a number of respects, with the most significant for the purposes of the story being that they have a limited lifespan (Bruna is in a constant countdown-state, her remaining time practically chiming in her mind in constantly updated reminders as it winds down ("Four years, three months, and twenty-nine days" when the story starts)) and that they have been implanted with an artificial memory that provides them with a human-like memory of childhood and growing up into the person/replicant they have now become. The memories are entirely false and pure fiction -- and while Bruna is aware of this, she can not see her own fake memories as anything but 'her' memories, and continues to find herself defined by this illusory past. These fundamental attributes of replicants' very being naturally make for some good existential dilemmas, and Montero certainly milks those for all they're worth: Bruna's odyssey (and investigations) remain (almost painfully) existentialist, as she is all too (self-)aware throughout.
       As she sums up:

I'm not my memory. Which, moreover, I know is fake. I am my actions and my days.
       Naturally, Bruna's existential Angst mirrors human Angst: the conundrums and fears she faces are the universal human experience, too -- just heightened (humans face mortality, but generally do not know the exact point at which they will die). (To make approaching death more (human-)life-like, however, Montero has her replicants suffer from debilitating TTT ('Total Techno Tumor'), which sends them into decline ultimately leading to their deaths, but whose timing isn't quite so precise: Bruna knows when she will die, but faces human-like uncertainty about when she's going to start losing her facilities.)
       As far as memory and the identity built on it goes, a human comforts -- or at least reminds -- Bruna, too:
All memories are lies. We all invent the past. Do you think my parents were really the way I remember them ?
       Bruna is a private investigator, and the story is set in motion when 'reps' start dying in unusual circumstances, going berserk -- apparently driven to violent action after taking in adulterated memories. Bruna is hired by the head of a political organziation, the Radical Replicant Movement, but the incidents and violence quickly escalate. Coupled with what's happening with the official record, it soon looks like a large-scale conspiracy:
The archive. Someone's manipulating the documents, falsifying the facts in order to stir up the revolt against the technohumans.
       Bruna investigates -- including by disguising herself as a human and trying to infiltrate the Human Supremacist Party, who would seem an obvious group to be behind all this. There's a police inspector who follows her activities (and often her) very closely, Paul Lizard ("the Reptile, the Caiman, that barely trustworthy hulk") and a one-time memoirist (as in writer-of-implanted-memories) turned successful novelist, Pablo Nopal, who both figure prominently in her adventures. Eventually, Bruna also finds herself struggling with some memory and personality complications, adding more twists to her existential issues.
       The science fiction of Tears in Rain is solid, and Montero handles it quite well. The existential fundamentals are intriguing, too. Less successful, however, is Bruna's investigation. Following her around -- and the novel does just follow her around -- gets tiresome, and what confrontations there are aren't adequate to build or maintain suspense. So too the bigger picture behind the crimes remains too opaque for too long. Montero has little problem tackling science fiction, but mixing it with mystery/thriller ambitions exceeds her grasp. One hopes for firmer command in the (surely inevitable) sequel .....
       (The title -- and, presumably, inspiration -- for the novel come from a famous movie scene (so famous that it has its own Wikipedia page ...) and, yes, Bruna is familiar with the film and "had learned by heart the final words spoken by the main rep character".)

- M.A.Orthofer, 5 November 2012

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Tears in Rain: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Spanish author Rosa Montero was born in 1951.

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