Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Hollow World

Hollow WorldHollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free eARC copy of this book from NetGalley.

...and I also bought a paperback from the author's website, because I enjoy and collect his work.

...and this is a great addition to that collection! First off, I'll say that I did not like it quite as much as Sullivan's Riyria books, but that's more from genre-preference than any issues with this book.

This book is certainly a fine celebration of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, as well as being a seriously good novel in its own right. As the author admits in his introduction, his work is more fiction than science, as he uses fantastical methods of achieving his time travel method and the future world that's encountered there, in Hollow World. But at the same time, there's some real plausibility to it. I mean, suspending a little disbelief and it all falls into place nicely. Whether or not this ever could happen, it's explained well and works for the story.

I wasn't surprised to like this book, but I was surprised at how much of a study of sociology, religion, and the human experience we ended up seeing. This book scores a big A+ for addressing social issues that make the reader think. So not only an enjoyable story, but one that leaves us looking at ourselves as well. It's a future that could come to pass, but it's also a good introspective of our present and past.

Did I mention the world building? Yes, Hollow World has that as well. The society that Sullivan postulated in his future is very realistically detailed. It is a world any of us enjoy visiting, but one that could be scary to envision. Is this future better or worse than what we have? The answer is yes.

Sullivan had several little gems in his writing that made the reading experience more enjoyable:

"Maybe was just a convenient shield to hide behind when reality proved to be a bitch."

"...but two dead bodies in front of a farmhouse had left them helpless. Ellis wasn't a cop, and had never served in the military, but he was from Detroit."

Those are just two examples. I caught myself re-reading passages all through the book as they'd either made me chuckle, or were serious food for thought.

This could have rated a 5-star book with me, except for the pacing. Don't get me wrong, the slowish pace worked very well for this book, and it did build up to a great payoff. It just didn't have me completely engaged all the way through in the way that I see a 5-star book doing to me. All in all that's a minor thing, and not even what I'd consider a fault in the story.

So in summary, well done Mr. Sullivan! I will shelve my signed copy in a safe place for a future re-read.

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