Monday, 8 December 2014

Review: Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap
Mind the Gap by Tim Richards

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This hovered, for me, in the tricky gap (ha!) between three and four stars. It's either right at the top of three stars - better than mediocre, reasonably competent, some originality, and I did enjoy it - or right at the bottom of four stars: over-padded middle, under-motivated protagonist, and at least some of the time I wished it was finished so that I could read something else, which is what finally decided me on a three-star rating.

Let's talk some more about the over-padded middle and under-motivated protagonist, which were the main reasons it didn't engage me more. There are quite a few cycles of "some things are explained that leave us with more questions, action scene, main character escapes using his power, fetches up somewhere else, dreams; shift to secondary viewpoint character, exposition, they make some decision or take some action, that character dreams". There were, for my taste, too many of those cycles.

You may have noticed in my summary that the main character, Darius, is primarily reactive, while secondary characters are more proactive, and this was another problem for me. At one point, one of the secondary characters reflects on the main character's motivations, and they're fairly weak, the kind of motivations a character often has near the start of a book rather than near the end: escape, get back home, and while he's at it rescue the girl.

Ah, the girl. Viv was, to me, the strongest character, more interesting, more proactive and more effective than the Darius was. They connect in a way that never convinced me: after one of his early teleportation episodes, Darius, disheveled, confused and presumably still with vomit breath from his reaction to his first episode, fetches up at Viv's coffee stand and talks like a crazy person. She meets him again by chance after work, and decides to take him home and sleep with him. Shortly thereafter, they're separated, but highly motivated to get back together and rescue each other, even though they basically hardly know each other (and it's already been established that this is his second casual sexual encounter in about three days). In the event, Viv rescues herself, largely, which I liked.

The last fifth or so of the book became more engaging, with thrilling events and a satisfying resolution, but there was an almost literal deus ex machina of sorts involved, and it wasn't enough to compensate for the overlong central portion.

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