Not only does Ballard manage to describe so effectively a change in the landscape that is gently apocalyptic but takes his lead character into a position of deciding how to react.
Having seen the forest crystalise in front of his eyes and those caught in it suffer a metamorphisis where their skin becomes encrusted in jewels Ransom still feels drawn to the forest. With the discovery that his former mistress has leprosy, which is of course a theme, and then chooses to take her own life by embracing the other deadly form of transformation.
As he stumbles through the private war between the mine owner and the architect Ventress the army withdraws and the individuals left in the affected zone have to make a decision for themselves about fleeing or embracing death. The priest opts for the later and so do some of the locals. But for the main character the pull back to the crystals and that sense of deciding to embrace the crystals is something that takes time. As a reader you are left sharing that indecision until the very end.
As you come to expect from Ballard the writing is tight, the cast selective and the attention to detail, making the whole thing plausible, is there in abundance. Personally I would run. But facing the pull of the strange lights and the impact on the mind who knows?
A review will follow soon...