This is a science-fantasy novel published by Tor. It ended up with 18 recommendations on the Nebula Recommended Reading List.

Laurence and Patricia are talented children. Laurence is a tech genius and Patricia is a witch. They don’t know how to hide out, so they’re bullied in school and end up hanging out together out of shared misery. Even their parents misunderstand and mistreat them. Later as adults, after they find their niche with appropriate groups, they run into one another again. The world seems to be ending, so Laurence and his friends try to build a machine to move people elsewhere. The organization of witches opposes this as a doomsday plan, leaving the two factions at odds. Can Laurence and Patricia come together to save the world?

Pros: I really like the first section of this novel. The writing has just a bit of hyperbole that gives it humor, and if you’ve read back through the blog, you can see I think bullying an important subject. Besides being so miserable and destructive to the recipient, it persecutes really gifted children and keeps them from making connections and developing their talents. This novel is also a complex work—Anders thanks her father for help with the philosophical conundrums.

Cons: Laurence and Patricia are pretty much sidelined after the first section, and the great beginning gets lost in accusations of self-aggrandizement, questions about responsibility and counter-maneuvers that leave everyone totally lost and impotent. Bad things happen. The ending is trite and fairly predictable. The writing may be quirky and absurdist, but it contributes to a feel that the novel doesn’t know what it’s trying to accomplish. It suffers very badly from mid-novel sag and doesn’t ever really find itself again. Maybe it’s about impotence in general? I’ll give it a few points for the philosophical conundrums.

Three stars.

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