I think SSM can do fiction. He is that rare thing in a man who does borderline women's fiction in a commercial style. I loved Sashenka his last book - which was, I fear, better. And that's the danger.
The idea of this book is good. You will get a real feel for the whirl of horror in a secret police state and life under Stalin. And how unusual to portray a school like this. There is a rich cast of characters and it is engaging and easy to read, yes, despite the horrors, and carries you with hope for the main character until the end.
Only. Only. He will have to be very careful on his next book. Only his name would get him published in this climate. And his non-fiction background. Because the writing is all tell and not show and there are too many voices and so we get lost. There are fundamentals which a new writer would never get away with. And editors don't point those out to a 'name.' I'll be sad if the next book doesn't have more edge because I do think he can do it. Read this. I do recommend it.
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