Stars: 1 out of 5
DNF at 42%.
I was lured to this book by the abundance of 5 star reviews. I was really looking forward to reading it… The first chapter had me baffled, confused and disappointed. But I decided to stick around to see if the story would actually get good and justify all those raving reviews… it didn’t. And as you can see, I stuck around for almost half of the book waiting for something to happen, so I think I gave it more than a fair chance.
I have so many problems with this book this review would become a laundry list of complaints if I were to touch on all of them. So I will limit myself to the aspects that raked me the most.
First, this story is told to the reader post-factum by a narrator that was there for some of the events and collected oral accounts of witnesses for the events he wasn’t part of. That can actually work, if done well. I read a few books told postpartum and loved them… But that doesn’t work if the narrator constantly breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader directly. I was about ready to throw my tablet at the wall after the third “Dear reader, you might not know but blah-blah-blah…”. After the fifth one, I was contemplating murder.
My second problem is that a combination of good ideas doesn’t make a good story. I got the impression that the author got so enamored with their worldbuilding, that they forgot to actually tell a compelling story. We get introduced to Bridger, this boy wonder who will supposedly change the world, in Chapter 1… then we don’t hear about him again until almost 30% into the book. Instead, we are introduced to an endless parade of characters, places, and philosophies, that I honestly stopped caring about after about the third chapter. My reaction became “yawn, who are all these people?”
It felt like a kid showing me their collection of random shinies they have accumulated over the years – they are all pretty and unique on their own, but they have no connection to each other. Like I said, a collection of ideas doesn’t make a story.
The final nail in the coffin of this book, at least for me, was when at 42% mark we finally come back to Bridger… then the narrator has to recap something that happened before (and he wasn’t present to witness, so it’s a third party account of a third party account). Yay, we finally have some action, even if related post-factum! Things are happening. Shenanigans are afoot… and then the action grinds to a screeching halt because a new character is introduce and it takes three pages to describe him, and what he is wearing, and how they are standing, and how others are reacting to him… Momentum = dead.
That’s when I threw my hat and decided to bid the book goodbye. This is a sad moment, because I probably won’t bother checking out other books by this author because my first impression was so disastrous.
PS: I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.