Hollow World by Michael J Sullivan

Stars: 2.5 out of 5

I couldn’t quite mesh with this book, no matter how I tried. Sure, the concept seems fun, and the Hollow World itself is fascinating, but some of the decisions the author took with the story didn’t sit well with me.

I was totally onboard while we were exploring the Hollow World and learning about this very homogeneous society. Heck, I was totally onboard with the murder mystery and trying to understand why somebody would start killing people in a society where murders, or even other crimes, haven’t happened in centuries, so they don’t even have a police force. Then the author threw in this whole Warren angle and the book went downhill from there, at least for me.

First of all, Warren doesn’t work as a villain. He is way too over the top in his misoginistic and patriarchal views. The Warren Ellis spoke to at the beginning of the book was a butthead, but he wasn’t this over the top. Sure, he lived 10 years longer in the past than Ellis, but would he really have changed that much?

Also, the idea that someone like Warren could successfully recreate the experiment that NOBODY else in the world did is ludicrous. Yes, he had Ellis’s notes, but the author tells us that the notes are only half the problem. That Ellis had to make some pretty complicated calculations to make sure he didn’t materialize into space or layers under the earth, or floating a kilometer above the surface in the future. And he had to account for the difference in time between when he was and when he was going and Earth rotation, and a bunch of other factors. Are you telling me that Warren was able to do the same ten years later with completely different parameters? I call bull.

Also, the fact that Warren was Ellis’s best friend turned me off the protagonist. I mean, at one point in the book, Ellis admits that he knew that his friend was a wife beater, yet he let it slide. He never confronted his friend about the physical abuse. Worse, instead of helping, he was making sarcastic comments about the intelligence of the victim for staying with her abuser. After that little gem I lost all respect for the protagonist and all interest for the story. But I was already 80% done by then, so I skimmed until the end and honestly? The ending is disappointing.

What was the point of all this? Yes, we get a pages-long villain monologue from Warren about his motives, but what would have Pol and Hal gotten out of the genocide of their entire species? They can’t reproduce. Did they want to be the last 2 men on Earth forever or what? If so, what stops them from trying it again? They aren’t captured at the end of the book, after all. Yet this fact is treated like some kind of afterthought. Nobody is worried. 

In the end, this was a disappointing read, but at least I managed to tick another book off my TBR list. It’s been languishing there since 2015.

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