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Customer Review

on 27 April 2012
Reading a review of this book on io9 it sounded just up my alley - time travel, alternative history and a lot of thriller thrown in. But I'm abandoning my read about half way through, something I rarely do.

The story itself is fine, with interesting ideas on how things might have worked out differently in the twentieth century, and a large cast of characters who, on the surface, should provide us with a rollicking run through said story. But it just doesn't work out that way. I can't believe other reviews here that say the characters are well rounded. The characters are ciphers, plain and simple. There's no actual protagonist, no internal monologue. The characters belonging to Kennedy's entourage are interchangeable. I'm half way through the book and I can't tell you why Kennedy cares about re-establishing the USA (before he sees the future), why he supposedly inspires blind loyalty from everyone who served under him or what his life was like. The modern captain of the Titanic is British but shows no difference in outlook to the CSA characters. There is a character who as far as I am aware is black and is good at killing people - that is it. What's it like to be a citizen of the CSA or to live in New York under the Japanese? No idea apart from that they have more sushi restaurants. Other than New York, places are hardly described, to the point where I had to keep flicking back to work out how they were suddenly somewhere else.

The whole thing is made worse by the splitting up of the multi-angled story into tiny chunks. Chapters end with no reason other than it seemed like the author wanted to move on to another viewpoint, often after a couple of pages. I found that the longer chapters were much easier to read.

I appreciate that this is a debut novel. I wouldn't say the author isn't capable of better - now and again some of the prose takes a leap into more poetical description, and, as I've said, the story itself seems interesting, but I think the publisher should have spent a lot of time working with the author to get it right. As it is, I'm just not interested enough in anyone in the book to continue reading.
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