In his sequel to Time Out of Time, the first Chronosphere novel, Alex Woolf picks up precisely where he left off and dives quickly into the action without fuss or preamble. However, for those of us who have not read the first book, or did so six months ago when it was first published, there is a helpful 'story so far' opening section to jog the memory and set the scene.
The pace in Book II is very different from Book I: almost breathlessly fast. Within pages the 'Malfunction' that ails the Sphere is in full spate and the Utopian society of young people having a good time (out of time) degenerates into anarchy and gang war in a matter of a few short chapters. While Time Out of Time was infused with a deep sense of constant unease, of imminent change and decay, of deep corruption barely concealed by a sickly-sweet sugar coating of paradise, Malfunction strips away all mystery very quickly, and asserts itself as an all-out action adventure of good against evil, with pitch battles, rivalry, quests, rescues, setbacks and nick-of-time interventions. Even the true purpose of the Sphere is revealed with little ceremony by a damaged dreamer-girl with father hunger who, chillingly, clearly has no full conception of the implications of her words.
I read Malfunction in a single day. Alex Woolf is a very good story-teller: he knows how to grip his audience and drag them headlong into his world without ever letting go. And it's not over yet: Part III, Ex Tempora, is out next year.