Friday, June 19, 2009

Book Review - The Fire

The Fire: A Novel
Katherine Neville
Ballantine Books (2008)
464 pages
Advance Readers Copy

This book is an ARC that I received in the mail unexpectedly from Ballantine Books. I was thrilled to be able to add it to my paper collection. It was free and unsolicited which made it that much better! For sending an extra ARC book that I did not even request Ballantine and LibraryThing.com get 5 out of 5 stars!

It seems obvious by the many reviews of this book posted at LibraryThing.com and elsewhere that you cannot mention it without talking about “The Eight” which is the first book in the series. I have to admit that I have never read “The Eight” but have seen a lot of positive remarks about it on the net. It seems to have had many good reviews over the years. With that information in mind I began reading “The Fire” the sequel.
The story flowed well and I finished it rather quickly and enjoyed parts of it. However, there were some obvious failings that bothered me. Some of the history was blatantly incorrect. (For example on Page 70 Ali Pasha was supplied repeating rifles designed for Lord Byron in America in 1822! This weapon wasn’t even invented until the late 1840’s and the first true patent wasn’t awarded until 1860!) There were other inconsistencies but this one stood out.

Second, the clues were “presented” rather than “allowed” to be uncovered through the writing. (Gosh, I wish I had the black queen, oh look, I’ve found the black queen. And since when does LX mean Luxury Car?? Page 40.) The reader wasn’t allowed the luxury to figure out the clue but was handed them prematurely. They were, perhaps, given up too freely.

Third, the pop-culture clich├ęs and sayings bantered between the main character and her friend seemed very misplaced, awkward and ill-timed to me. They probably should have been left out completely as they did nothing to move the story forward.
The characters were well drawn as were most of the locations. And I enjoyed many of the scenes, especially those of a historic nature but the author probably should have spent a little more time on this before submitting for publication.

2 ½ stars out of 5

P.S. I did purchase “The Eight” after receiving the ARC sequel because I’ve heard only good things about it. With that said I intend to read them both back to back to see if my opinion of the sequel changes for the better.

The Alternative
September 28th, 2008
Southeast Wisconsin

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