The Fold by Peter Clines

A great book, very hard to put down. I whomped through this, barely able to put it down the first night–and way too late.

It starts off as a mystery, kind of, and very focused on science and analysis. There are brief bits of action every so often, but it’s mostly about people putting their heads down and working together (though with specific restraints) to solve a problem and separately, to solve the little mysteries that have accumulated.

The book remained interesting, even through one of the big reveals at the middle of the book was anticipated–because I remembered an excellent book that was intriguingly parallel on the technology front.

[Spoilers await, so I’ll put what follows below the more tag.] Continue reading “The Fold by Peter Clines”

Now That You’re Here (Duplexity, Part I) by Amy Nichols

This is a book about normal teens in a glitzy but almost normal version of Palo Alto. It felt like a privileged high school world, a little exceptional (very skilled scientists teach at high school, because), but without telepathy or magic.

It’s actually about teens in two parallel universes; one as I mentioned above (a slightly glitzier near future cutting edge Arizona of our reality off 10 degrees) and a second, totalitarian America, also Arizona, much further askew. The book alternates chapters between Danny and Eevee; Danny from totalitarian America, and Eevee from almost our universe. Very early, something happens that switches Danny’s consciousness; so now totalitarian world Danny’s mind is in almost normal world.

From there, it’s a very interesting mashup. Part of it is a little sigh inducing–it’s a romance between our main characters. Very surprising to the characters, unfortunately not surprising as a reader.

The investigation into the “jump” between worlds is interesting; since it’s carried on by teens, it’s stripped down and long on hypotheses, but they can’t investigate a lot of lines of research, even on a Palo Brea teen’s budget. Speaking of which; I really enjoyed Eevee and Warren’s background–it felt fraught and authentic, with the unspoken assumptions that come from complete familiarity.

All in all, I liked it and am interested in the flipside book, While You Were Gone. Now That You’re Here is very much a YA book, including the limited perception of the world of adults–so it might feel a bit “simple” if that’s a peeve of yours.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

A great YA book set in a late victorian clockwork and magic world that borrows a lot from real history… then throws in bold changes, making it unique. The borrowing from the real world, in the end, is mostly the names of countries and empires–but not even that, straight.

It’s a boarding school book, where our hero attends a large, exclusive school that trains people for their careers… including the career of Rithmatist. There’s a lot of interesting history about this weird magical practice that comes out over the book. The first thing we learn is that Rithmatic lines are drawn in chalk, often circles and lines. There’s art interspersed between chapters with drawings of the various circles and their points of intersection. That’s a fascinating read, and lends quite a bit to the feel of a complex, discovered magic system.

Joel is an interesting hero; near obsessed with Rithmatists, but unable to wield their powers. As you’d expect from YA, his focus and dedication, despite the evident incongruity, pays off in the end–but not much before that!

Much like Harry Potter, he’s poor in a society of wealthy aristocrats. While his father is also dead, his mother is present, if mostly in the background. Much of the book is about Joel coming to navigate relationships of his choosing, both with Professor Fitch and Melody.

Melody, in contrast to Joel, is a Rithmatist… but not a very good one. She doesn’t draw great circles, she drifts off in class, and “doodles” unicorns. She’s what Joel wishes to be, squandered… but we find that there’s more to her (and her chalklings) too.

In the end, it was well done. The book comes to a satisfying conclusion, but with a large thread left dangling. I’ll keep an eye out for its promised sequel, but writing hasn’t been begun on it yet.