Pros: Fantastic tale with great characters
Rating: 5 out of 5
The Fold: A Novel, by Peter Clines, is a fantastic read. A bunch of scientists started out trying to figure out how to teleport people and failed. Instead they found a new path: creating folds in space. They’ve gone past animal trials and have been passing people back and forth for a while now. However, they keep insisting to their government keepers that they need to do more testing. They’ve become extremely secretive, and are hostile toward Leland “Mike” Erikson, who was sent in to figure out what’s really going on. In one sense, Mike is just an English teacher. However, he has a unique ability to store, retain, and analyse facts. Reggie, the government guy, has been trying to hire Mike for years, but this is the first time he’s come to Mike with something so unusual–and Mike finally gives in.
I like the way Clines handles Mike’s abilities. They aren’t used as a deus ex machina. The last time I saw a character with a similar set of abilities–who was also believed to be one of the smartest people on the planet–nearly the whole story was an extended deus ex machina (Elixir). Mike’s mental faculties are amazing, but not a cure-all. They have some significant downsides that explain very well why he ‘hides out’ as a simple school teacher. Clines came up with a great way of depicting Mike’s abilities that keeps things interesting. And in a world where people are learning to fold space for travel, his abilities don’t feel out-of-place. Clines also managed to give him genuine social difficulties that didn’t fit the usual stereotype, and they felt very ‘real’.
The dialogue was snappy, interesting, and fun. When I find myself quoting tidbits of dialogue to my husband, I know it’s good. (Speaking of which, I am absolutely going to make him read this book, because he’ll love it.) The characters have interesting things to say. They also have differing reasons why they warm up to, don’t warm up to, gradually come to trust, or continue to mistrust Mike. Each one has depth and layers of personality.
Apropos of nothing, I want to see a movie made out of this book. A lot of it would lend itself well to a visual medium, in my opinion. Well, okay, maybe not Mike’s abilities, although I’d like to see someone try to depict that visually.
At first I had certain suspicions regarding the machine and the people who worked with and used it. In particular, at first it looked like run-of-the-mill paranoia might be the problem. I hoped not, because that would have been overly simplistic and much less interesting than what’s really going on. I will say that I did not see the answer coming, and it’s fantastic. I think I muttered “holy shit” at least once, and I had serious trouble putting the book down to do other things. There was only one detail that I felt the characters should have given more weight to, and it was a comparatively minor issue.
In addition to the snappy dialogue, there are some great very up-to-date pop culture references (“hail Hydra” being my favorite).
I so want to read a sequel. Or any other book with Mike as a main character. Or… well, mostly I’m going to have to hunt down Clines’ other novels. I had so much fun with this one!
NOTE: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.