Book Review – Limitless

by Alan Glynn (faber and faber) ISBN: 978 0 571 27334 8

The book has superhottie Bradley Cooper in a slick suit on the cover, so of course it grabbed my attention. Formerly titled The Dark Fields, this Irish author’s 2001 debut novel has been reissued for the movie tie-in.  It’s easy to see why Hollywood picked it up for a big screen release.

At the core of it lies a fascinating gimmicky premise – a down-on-his-luck writer discovers an experimental drug that transforms him into a super human. MDT-48 is like super-charged Ritalin for grown-ups. Within days, Eddie Spinola has finished his book, learned a new language is processing information at such an electric rate he is able to exploit the stock market.

This transformation brings him unlimited power – and unwelcome attention from some shady, greedy characters. And then he realises this new brain-Viagra has some nasty little side-effects: blackouts, excruciating headaches and violent flare-ups.

Limitless is a horrifying allegory for a society obsessed with self-improvement and increasingly reliant on designer pharmaceuticals; it grittily explores the temptations and downfall of Eddie as a chemical Icarus in present day New York.

Glynn’s novel is written at a hypnotic pace, but it hardly translates into eloquent prose.

The premise is brilliant, yes, but Eddie gets lost in the convoluted plot and the reader loses sympathy for him as the main character.  Maybe the movie would be better – if only for the fact that it stars the sublime Mr Cooper!

Faith Parker


Posted on: 6th November 2011