This one was hard to write. I actually enjoyed reading it for a while and thought it would be a five out of five but, somewhere around the middle, I realised it was more that I was thinking about what could happen versus what was actually happening. The story hit one note and sort of hung there with the promise of something big happening and then it didn’t.
I will admit the slow pace actually wasn’t a big deal for me to start, but it did become one as I got further in. The little spurts of action were fine and the character foundations were laid well. You knew who and what everyone was about. After that, I was on such a high to get to the end and see where it was going that I kinda glossed over that fact that this was it. The characters kept cycling through the same emotions without actually hitting some sort of goal. This, of course, put me back in this state of enjoying what I perceived would happen and constantly waiting to see if I was right and then I was neither right or wrong. No one seemed to come out worse or better in the end. Just the same, exactly the same as the were when they went in. This was mostly the ending’s fault.
The a-hah or the big finale that is the end of this book literally undoes everything. It read as if the author just wanted you to think ‘what if’ and that, that was the only purpose. This became problematic because now what was the point of reading any of the other stuff with this ending? No tragedy, no learning curve, no vindication no… win, just ‘oh… okay’. I literally read that last sentence of I believe the second to last chapter and thought ‘no the author didn’t’. The next page will totally not be what I think it is and, yes. It sure was what I thought it would be. This unfortunately also made me realise that all of the character arcs I was expecting only lived in my mind. They definitely weren’t going to happen. Not with this ending.
There’s only one way I can really explain this. This book was very cleverly crafted, everything happened when it should, and that was it. Hit all the right notes of a good story without becoming amazing, Like that cake that’s perfect out the oven but the more time you have to consider it’s excellence the more it folds in on itself and your experience becomes less amazing. It’s the almost perfect cookie. Smells delicious, looks amazing, taste good too, but then you take a bite of the cookie beside it that doesn’t look so perfect but is by far the tastier, better cookie. This book, in my opinion, is what happens when things are laid out just a little bit too well causing the characters to stay in one place without building upon that foundation into the nuances needed for them to evolve.
No ones ‘why’ for going on this mission stuck. Even before the ending, the author managed to undo most characters original intentions for going accept for the architect of the mission. Because of this I couldn’t really attach to them and relied solely, like I’ve said, on this hope there’d be some epiphany in the end for the cast and also put full faith in the plot doing the same. Both of which didn’t deliver. So they ended up like the cake and cookie above. The more time I had to think about it as I read the less amazing it felt under scrutiny, this was part of why the slow pace ultimately went from not being an issue, to becoming one. Too much time to actually think about this book.
I still do not understand the history of this book. How the years are calculated. I get that it’s like earth but not, Still that isn’t enough. I kept trying to figure it out based on the vague details. How magic came, and all sorts of things and it was hard to really get into this world when I simply couldn’t guesstimate what time it was with the details given about the politics, wars, and events that happened in this alternate earth.
The ending sealed the fate of this book. Emotionally it was a let down cause the characters had nowhere to go, and technically it made the rest of the book appear as if the author was trying to be profound with a ‘what if’ in relation to the readers’ version of earth. Instead it felt like the easy way out rather than digging in for something grittier. The only ‘what if’ I was thinking is what if all this story and plot hadn’t been undone with this one sentence. Then maybe some deeper and a better resolve of all the set up would’ve lifted this book into something more spectacular instead of leaving one with that sense of ‘okay. That was interesting I guess.’ It’s just a shame there wasn’t something bigger or more interesting to be had here cause this ending was probably as easy as they come when considering it doesn’t have to deal at all with the mess leading up to it. It was like the end to the movie Sphere except with Sphere life moved on from a certain point and none of the stuff before the end was magically undone.
The more I think about this story the more I realise that after the opening which I loved almost everything about it just grinds my gears and I honestly, as you probably can tell from this review, only kept reading in hopes of finding what this opening provided but the rest of the book did not live up to the promise. It gets three stars for being well written but beyond that there was a whole lot of negative emotions involved in reading this that the ending left completely unresolved.