Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Fold by Peter Clines

The Fold
Peter Clines
2015 - Crown Publishing

I almost didn’t read this.  I have a collection of new books waiting to be read.  Whenever I scanned the list for a likely candidate, I skipped this one.  A couple of months ago, the rubbish work of an author named “Cline” left such a stench in my brain, the similarity in names put me off “Clines”

Fortunately, I overrode such irrational decision making and gave “The Fold” a try.

It’s GOOD.  I can’t say it’s “great”, but it more than held my interest. 

Clines’ writing is dynamic and full of pep.  The story moves right along with lively characters.  The hero, “Mike”, is very accessible despite his remarkable (but still human) abilities.  Rather than simply presenting a protagonist with a Holmesian level mind, Clines skillfully, and plausibly, rationalizes that Mike has been downplaying his mental acuity since childhood in the name of Having A Normal Life.  As a result, we ease comfortably into the shoes of this chap who is hanging off the end of the human abilities bell curve.   The secondary supporting cast are all well-constructed and fun.

The story.  How to describe this without spoiling anything?  From luck, native ingenuity and/or years of reading science fiction, I deduced the Big Plot Twist very quickly.  Only by reading dozens of online reviews will I maybe discover if I’m “special” or if many folks saw the Twist coming.  I ain’t gonna do that.  

The thing is, even as more clues were dropped and the mystery intensified, I kept enjoying myself.  Even when the crescendo reveal took place and I was 100% correct that “the butler did it”, I kept right on reading without pause or any feeling of disappointment.  Plenty going on.

The book won’t give you much to chew and reflect upon.  It’s a grand sci-fi adventure, but I can’t claim it to be “deep”.  Maybe I’m biased towards enjoying it.  That’s rather the way my own writing trends.

The downsides?  

There’s this sloppy, juvenile trend in modern writing to fill the narrative with pop culture geek references.  Some authors (the aforementioned Cline without an “s” for one) hurl this sludge by the shovelful.  Peter Clines keeps running and splashing thru that mud puddle, but he possesses the skill or awareness to then explain the reference.  Also, the references come from characters who are established as pop culture geeks, so it is legitimate, if increasingly tiresome, that they keep making these references.  

Thru 88% of the book, we stay firmly rooted in Mike’s point-of-view.  Thus, the three times Clines yanks us to another character’s view, the effect is a jarring, major speed bump in the prose. 

In summation, if you’re in the mood for some energetic sci-fi fun, I can recommend “The Fold”.  I’m going to see what else Mr. Clines has written…

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