6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Weak and overlong, 13 Jan 2013
This is, sadly, not a good book. There are the usual Hamilton features - interwoven plot lines, new technology, a new universe, rather cardboard characters. But they are all shadows of his former books. The plots (three main ones: the murder, the St Libra situation, and who one of the characters actually is) are all laboured and grind on to an obvious or an uninteresting conclusion. The technology is basically reheated ideas that everyone who reads SciFi has read before - although that does not stop the unreliable network of traffic sensors being mentioned what seemed like several hundred times.
The universe is, frankly, unbelievable - for example has the future EU decided that energy security is something they're are not interested in at all, for they let the Newcastle gateway not only exist as a single gateway (single point of failure anyone?) but be largely unprotected (there is basically a shanty town surrounding it)? The book (and the denouement of the plots) is chock full of such illogicalities - another random example: a very rich character gets personally financially wiped out by other rich dudes. Seriously? This highly skilled financier had done nothing to stop his entire wealth being wiped out by someone else manipulating the market? Ridiculous. There are a host of others, but most of them reveal rather too much of the plot for a review (although, writing obliquely, a full third of the plot hinges on someone of undoubted abilities not being able to open a car door).
The grand conclusion was fairly tense provided you didn't think about it - as soon as you did it became completely implausible (super nets anyone?).
Other things niggle - logging on to police computers as another officer as a matter of routine: somehow I imagine they'd have solved the problem of identification and authentication of computer systems by then. I could understand and cut some slack if it was an essential plot point but it wasn't; it was just a throw away inanity that was badly thought through. Getting the best deal on exploration kit just before you enter the gateway? Yes, because in the current day airport shops are widely known as being cheap and offering a great selection of products.
And the padding. Oh the padding. Take the Zanth - maybe a hundred pages devoted to this (actually rather neat) alien threat, all of which is entirely irrelevant. It only provides is a back story to a few inconsequential characters who didn't need it.
Overall a book that largely falls to pieces when the ideas and plotting are examined critically, is unnecessarily long, offers unengaging characters, and offers little new to be worth the time investment.