In the latest installment of Tom Easton's column for Analog magazine, "The Reference Library," he praises the "panache" of Ian McDonald's latest, Brasyl, proclaiming that "McDonald soaks us in atmosphere: flamboyance, verve, religions (including soccer), lunch-hour plastic surgery, and all the rest of the potpourri that defines modern Brazil."
Tom provides a big hint to the big picture, but understands that "it’s much more concerned with image than with anything real. That makes Brazil the perfect stage for this play, even as it calls into question the nature of reality and free will."
His conclusion, that "Brasyl is an impressively energetic novel that gains a great deal from the exotic ambience of its setting. It also makes an interesting philosophical point at the end: Only in imperfection, perhaps the work of the devil, can we find hope. McDonald is well worth your attention."
Update: Two reviews for the UK edition for Brasyl came to my attention today as well. Lisa Tuttle, in The Times, calls the book, "a brilliant, kaleidoscopic novel that’s both a portrait of a country and an exploration of the wilder shores of theoretical physics. Brasyl is McDonald’s best book yet, written in a vivid, almost hallucinatory style that’s perfectly suited to his fascinating subject."
Meanwhile Eric Brown writes in The Guardian that Brasyl is "an accomplished work, a complex, multi-layered narrative which questions the notions of determinism and free will in a universe of illimitable possibilities. McDonald not only paints a stunning portrait of Brazil, which in all its chaos mirrors the quantum uncertainties of the multiverse, but presents a set of characters who come over as real people: multi-faceted, flawed, but ultimately sympathetic.