Jeff Baker is the creator of the ultimate storage device, the memory crystal. Able to hold masses of information, it has caused the downfall of copyright: everything is now public access. With this freedom the world is living in an age where anything can be stored, from constant security footage, to the entire backlog of all media ever created. But Jeff is not only famous for the creation of this crystal, his fame comes from the fact that he didn’t patent the crystal: he gave away the technology to whoever could build it, making him known the world over.
Now, after years of research, rejuvenation is possible. Jeff is chosen as the first subject because of his past achievements, and also his promise of working toward a superconductor once treatment is complete. After months being rejuvenated, Jeff wakes up to a face he hasn’t seen in fifty years. Family and friends have to adjust to his younger appearance, new outlook on life – and behaviour – to go with it.
Misspent Youth is the story of one family’s experiences after a historic landmark and all the problems and consequences thrown up by it.
The world created by Peter is once again full of ideas and has a history that is evident in the writing. This is something that I always enjoy when getting into one of Peter’s novels – I don’t want a flat world that isn’t alive past the immediate surroundings of a scene. Some of the highlights of the novel are the background things – an ongoing race to get a commercial vehicle to space, the build up to the European presidential election and the imminent (and superbly realised) Million Citizen march in London. Combine this with a history where copyright has crumbled and all data is free in a society with instant access to anything you can imagine and you’ve got a great setting, one that doesn’t come much better.
Of course, this helps to set the tone of the novel, which is noticeably split due to the perspectives it is told through. Jeff, a 78-year-old with a brand new body already has lifetime of experiences, and now with a youthful body he knows how to get what he wants, if not always how to do it the right way. Jeff can be a nice character at times, while at others he just doesn’t seem to think straight and the actions caused by this lead to some very interesting and awkward situations. Tim, Jeff’s son, is just 18 and has his fair share of problems when it comes to girls and partying. Because of this he can be more than a little annoying and immature at times, although he does have some redeeming qualities that are enough to make him bearable and someone you can relate to.
Most other characters are a joy to read, with the exception is Annabelle, Tim’s first love. Without giving anything away, she certainly doesn’t appear to care much for those she hurts, and I’m sure everyone knows someone like her, for better or worse. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh in my view of her, but she isn’t a likable character.
However, despite all the faults with the characters, they are what they are, and the story just wouldn’t be as effective without them.
I guess you could say that Misspent Youth is double-edged sword when it comes down to it. A great setting and story that can be hampered at times by the characters. From Peter’s past works many will come to this expecting something it isn’t, an action filled space opera. However, come to this with no expectations and read the book for what it is and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.