This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

15 February, 2013

REVIEW: EMPIRE STATE

Cover by Will Staehle

EMPIRE STATE
BY
ADAM CHRISTOPHER

ISBN: 978-0-85766-192-0
Pages: 416 +Extras
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
First published: 27 December 2011
This edition published: 5 January 2012

On the cover:

THE EMPIRE STATE IS THE OTHER NEW YORK

 It's a parallel-universe, Prohibition-era world of mooks and shamuses that is the twisted magic mirror to our bustling Big Apple. It's a city where sinister characters lurk around every corner, while the great superheroes who once kept the streets safe have fallen into deadly rivalries and feuds. Not that its colourful residents know anything about the real New York...until detective Ray Bradley makes a discovery that will change the lives of all its inhabitants.

   If you have read Crime Noir, you'll recognise both the atmosphere that this novel creates and its 20th century setting. But it's not as simple as that, this isn't "just" Crime Noir but rather a mix of genres. Christopher blends Crime Noir with superheroes and parallel universes, and he does it in such a way that his novel retains the rugged realism of Crime Noir.

   The story starts off in a way that isn't out of place in any 1930s set crime novel, but that changes very quickly, and we are soon transported into the realm of SFF. Structurally however the story stays in the realm of Crime Noir. It moves rather slowly, and it can feel frustrating at times that the answers to all the questions the novel poses take a long time to get answered. But that is not a flaw, Christopher deliberately holds his cards to his chest while he builds the characters and setting.

   The slow pace is wonderful for the atmosphere of the book, and Christopher really pays back the readers patience when he gives us the answers to the many mysteries we are presented with along the way. It's impossible to predict what will happen, or what role many of the characters eventually will have in the story. This makes each revelation more powerful, and adds a lot to the depth of the story.
    Although the pace is slow, the story never gets dull. Christopher's writing is great throughout, and he's very good at holding on to the readers interest. And more importantly there's no authorial cheating. When the answers come they do so in a way that feels natural to the story, and there is no revelations that come out of the blue.

   There is also quite a bit of action in the book, especially towards the end. The action is very well done, it is written in a way that creates a lot of tension, and the change of pace from the slower build up gives it a very nice urgency.

   When there's a mix of different genres, like in this novel, there's always a danger that some element of it feels like it is put there as an afterthought. That is not the case here at all, the SFF elements and the Crime Noir flow together seamlessly, and it is definitely all needed to make the novel a whole.
   I never felt that anything suffered in the mix either, there's full development of all the genre parts of this novel.  The crime, superheroes, and parallel universe all are fully developed. And together they make something that feels fresh and exciting.

   All in all this is a wonderful debut novel, there's not really any flaws at all. Whether your preference lies in parallel universes, crime, or superheroes, this is a novel that should find its way into your hands at the earliest opportunity. The world, the characters, and the story are all excellent and together they will give you a great reading experience.

LINKS: Adam Christopher  Angry Robot Books

No comments:

Post a Comment