...an original and absorbing novel — written in clear, rich prose — that imagines a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles where dystopia is fine-tuned to our present turmoil ... It is hard to imagine a better writer to conjure a vision of a demolished and encaged Los Angeles than Tolkin ... This is a novel that thrives on pure vision. The plot flows well, and its vivid characters and ideas make it an immersive experience ... NK3 is nightmare and satire, thriller and warning. Crafted by a master storyteller, it is a haunting parable about civilization marching forward, while forgetting what it leaves behind.
A director, writer and producer, Tolkin may be best known for his novel The Player and its film adaptation directed by Robert Altman. NK3 is a much bleaker Hollywood story, but with flashes of antic wit and honestly earned compassion. Each shift in the narrative’s point of view is heralded by the names of the characters who appear in the section. It’s a useful strategy, in that the cast is large and somewhat unwieldy. Confronted by names like 'AutoZone,' 'Go Bruins' and 'Madeinusa,' many readers will need help keeping track of everybody. But the names also remind one of how easily people are turned into commodities, how slippery the grip on identity can be, how there’s always someone ready to set themself up as the savior of civilization. Just because someone is known as 'Chief' doesn’t mean he can keep his followers fed forever. At a time of alternative facts and a bend toward cultural amnesia, NK3 feels especially prescient.
NK3 moves at a forceful clip, braiding numerous storylines together in short, punchy chapters unti . . . well, I’m not sure what. The abrupt cliffhanger ending is a major frustration, as though Mr. Tolkin decided at the last minute to leave us panting for the next installment in some serial. But the book’s plotting is ultimately less notable than its vision of social disruption, in which techies and underlings turn the tables on the ruling class of celebrities and executives.