corrielle: (Book and Key)
[personal profile] corrielle
One of my New Year's goals was to start doing book reviews again, in one form or another. So, to get that started, here are my thoughts on the first book I finished in 2014. (It was a doorstop, which is why it took me all month to read it.)

1. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

I chose this books precisely because it was outside of my normal reading comfort zone. While I certainly enjoy watching sci-fi, I haven't read a lot of it. I'm much more likely to reach for one of the flavors of fantasy. But around the end of last year, I ran across a "best sci-fi books of 2013" list, and this was on it, and it sounded interesting. Our local library had access to a copy, so I picked it up.

The thing I enjoyed most about the novel was the world-building. This is near-future sci-fi, with recognizable places and plausible seeming technologies and all too familiar social problems. For instance: What do we do once we discover other worlds suited for human life? Force the poor and destitute through the huge gateways we've constructed, give them supplies, wish them luck, and don't allow them back onto Earth. Same thing goes for all but the most violent of criminals.

I've been watching a lot of Almost Human lately, and so the parts of this book that centered around the police investigation into the murder of one of the clones who runs the most powerful company on Earth (or any of the human worlds, for that matter...) were really fascinating. The ways that people had integrated technology into their bodies, the ways that nano-technology were used... really neat, and raised a lot of quesitons about privacy and how much of it we give up for access to information and assurances of safety. For instance, most people have technology embedded in their bodies that is monitoring their life signs at all times, and if something goes wrong, the tech automatically alerts the authorities. Potentially life-saving, but extremely probelmatic.

Another huge chunk of the novel is concerned with an expedition to a planet called St. Libra, which is the place that is providing most of the fuel for Earth and all of its worlds. People thought it was uninhabited, but... as the novel goes on that gets more complicated. (Of course.) St. Libra was really well described, and by the end, it was like reading about a place I had been to myself (though I wouldn't want to be there under the conditions the characters have to go through...)

So... really neat world building and a fascinating alien world.

I also really liked Angela, one of the main characters, who was accused of a pretty horrific murder she didn't commit and is on St. Libra to prove that it was an alien no one else believes in. As the book goes on, you get more and more of Angela's backstory, and the pieces start to fall into place, and it's WILD. I think she was the most fully fleshed out character of the book.

And while there were all of these things that I enjoyed about it, the ending seemed... abrupt. (Weird to say of a novel that tops 900 pages, I know.) I felt like once the mystery of the murder and the alien and how they're connected was uncovered, things happened REALLY fast, and there wasn't a lot of closue. There was some... enough that I wasn' TOO frustrated, but I felt like I wanted more of a slow unwinding.

Still, I think this is a book that's more about the journey than the destination. I'm glad I read it.

Up next: Persepolis or Life After Life
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