2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The face in the mirror is not mine,
This review is from: The Wrong Reflection (Mass Market Paperback)
One of the most basic traits of our humanity is our identity. Our identity is made up of our history, our memories, our personality and our relationships. But what would happen if you woke up one day and all of that was gone? You look in the mirror and you don't recognize the face that is staring back at you? You're in a hospital but you don't know how you got there?
The Wrong Reflection, by Gillian Bradshaw, is a science fiction thriller that begins dealing with this issue. Bradshaw is primarily known for writing historical fiction using her classical background. Whatever possessed her to try her hand at science fiction, I have no clue. However, she succeeds brilliantly using the talents that her previous genre no doubt taught her (I have not read any of her other books). She creates vivid characters and ties them into a tight thriller that makes you keep turning the page as you wonder what's happening. Unfortunately, the ending can't keep up the steam, and she uses a grammatical conceit that becomes increasingly aggravating.
The first half of The Wrong Reflection is a brilliant mystery, with Paul knowing even less than the reader. This makes the book even more enjoyable as you try to unravel what's going on before Paul can. The tension mounts as Sir Philip keeps trying to get Paul to check into a medical facility run by Stellar, and Paul knows that something is going on. But every time he starts to remember, he doubles over in pain and has a severe bout of nausea. I found myself wanting to read "just one more chapter" when I should have been going to bed. It was engrossing, and I really felt sorry for Paul and his predicament. Sandra was an intriguing character as well, feeling obligated to find out how the man she rescued is doing, and then sensing a kindred spirit, a man who wears his logical mind as a badge, and a man who is scared of everything around him. She becomes his anchor to the world, and also his lifeline. His memory is strange as he can remember many scientific things, but he can't remember how to put on pants (I found that part a little illogical, though it's slightly explained once the secret is revealed).
As the mystery is revealed, it becomes a standard "misunderstood alien is used and abused by an evil corporation for fun and profit" story with a scientific twist, lessening the impact. The villains are rather stereotypical, with Lloyd being the worst of the bunch. He believes his heart's in the right place but can't see why what he's doing is wrong. Other characters are less so, being far more interesting. There's a Michael Moore-like documentary director (though more honest) named Rod, and his lover and cameraman, Dave. Thankfully, nothing is made of the fact that they are gay, becoming just part of their characters rather than an agenda. Malcolm, the black home-nurse who is initially brought in to take care of Paul, suffers from this a little bit more. He is a well-rounded character, but his race becomes an issue when he asks Sandra if the fact that he's black is why she won't be with him (despite the fact that she's obviously already in love with Paul). This bit is just thrown in there and batted aside by Sandra, making the reader wonder why it was even there in the first place.
Bradshaw's writing is excellent, drawing the reader in with her words and making even the slower second-half of the book seem much better than it really is. Her prose is really well done and she writes with great economy. There's only one problem, and it may be a personal issue with me. I found the constant movement from one viewpoint to the other very annoying. Bradshaw moves from Paul's viewpoint to Sandra's and then back again, all within the same section of the book. Thankfully, these are the only two viewpoint characters she uses, or it would get even more confusing. I found it very discombobulating when I was reading Paul's thoughts and then all of a sudden I'm reading Sandra's. I know expert writers can break the rules, and that this can even be effective, but I don't think it was this time. It was distracting, and it really detracted from the book. Considering how great the rest of her writing was, I found it even more disappointing.
I can't say much about the science aspect of the novel, as I don't know a lot about magnetic fields and singularities. It sounded good enough to suspend my disbelief, which is all I ask for in a science fiction novel. It doesn't get very technical, so if hard science turns you off, you don't need to worry about it. Bradshaw explains it well enough so that you can understand it
The Wrong Reflection will keep you reading, despite the fact that it limps to the finish line after a wonderful start.