Well. That happened.
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher and was super excited – it sounded cool and amazing and everyone was comparing it to The Martian (My favourite book of 2014) in their reviews. I had to have it.
Mike Erikson is, hiding away, ostensibly, a spectaculary average small town high school teacher. The reality is, Mike has a super brain, a photographic memory and is a proper genius, ignoring his potential because his supreme intelligence means responsibility and attention, and the possibility of a career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) – which, in case you are wondering is one of my fantasy dream careers. But I’m just average smart, not rocket scientist smart. Damn my inferior brain.
So, hermit Mike is lured into working for his good friend of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA – I had to Google it) in order to investigate a government funded invention whereby magnetism (picture two giant MRIs) and advanced mathematics create a ‘Fold‘ – effectively changing the fabric of reality so that a single step equates to hundreds of metres travelled.
You know when you’re in a rush and you put a T-shirt on backward? Even if there’s no tag in it, you don’t have to look in the mirror to know it’s on wrong. You can just feel it.”
“That’s all you’ve got for me?”
“It’s just wrong,” he replied with a shrug. “That’s all I can tell you. There’s something so wrong out there that you can almost feel it in the air. And you know what’s the weirdest part?”
“I think everyone out there feels the same way.”
What could possibly go wrong?
As I said, the book description sounded like it would be awesome. And, for about 80% of the story, I would have had to agree. I raced throughout it and it had all the makings of a top notch story of mystery and inter-dimensional travel. Just, what is the Fold? And, how exactly does it work? And really, what is wrong with it? Why is every body being so secretive? Now, these questions and the process of discovery is what I enjoyed. This was going to be a five star read.
“We take over six hundred pages of math and force-feed it to the universe through an electromagnetic funnel. We tell the universe ‘I don’t care what you think. I’m lifting my foot here and putting it down there.’”
“And the universe doesn’t object?”
Arthur finished off his whiskey. “Not so far.”
But, it was not to be. The ending nearly made me give this a 2 star rating. We went from a smart, although at times oddly written story, to some strange print version of a B-Grade Hollywood film where demon monsters take over the world.
I honestly could not believe the direction this took. I could see how the ending would go as I was reading – Mike would be betrayed by one of the sneaky scientists, somehow become trapped in the Fold, and then have to MacGyver his way out, all the while, planning how to take over as Director of JPL. Done.
We got dead Marines and Monsters. It really made no sense to me.
I say oddly written, in that for me, the writing went from brilliant to completely pedestrian. I got to the end and read the acknowledgements where the author mentions pulling the story apart at one point then putting it back together to perfect it, and just wished that Mr Clines had had one more go of this. The love story was unnecessary and as a reader, not enjoyable. And, while at first, I liked the idea of ‘ants’ being used to describe the sorting and storing of ‘photographic’ images in Mike’s head. By the end I was sick to death of them. And don’t get me started on the monsters . Whyyyyyyy?
I was also pretty bored of Mike by the end of it. He was like a Hipster, trying so hard to prove that they are populists, instead turning themselves into elitists. It’s not cool in Hipsters, and it’s not cool in nerds. Own your brilliant brain, mate.
In the end, I gave this three stars because I CAN appreciate much of this book. I was disappointed and frustrated with the ending, but did enjoy the bulk of the novel.
Disclaimer: I admit to not having read too many of these sciency books. ¯\_(”/)_/¯ I like vampires.
Three out of Five Stars.
Copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review.