Review: Down Station by Simon Morden

★★☆☆☆

Review copy courtesy of NetGalley.

DNF at 68%. I feel terrible about this, but I just can’t finish it. I really wanted to so it would count toward my 2016 goal… Alas. I was slowly losing interest throughout the entire thing, but when people start turning into birds, I’m out.

Short description:
On the run from a massive, fiery cataclysm (of unknown origin), a group of tube workers escapes from the underground through a door that leads to … a rocky ocean shore. And when they turn around, the door is gone. Stranded in a strange new world where the moon is too big and the stars are gone, they meet a man with wolves on chains who tells them to go find the geomancer. Using the skills between them, they set off across the wild, empty world, wondering if they could be walking into a trap.

This book is different. It’s weird. It’s a mixture of elements I love, like survival and magical realism, time travel (sort of), portal fantasies, etc. The whole time I was reading, I wasn’t anticipating the next plot point like so many other novels tend to make me do; instead, I was simply along for the ride, waiting to see what would happen next.

I really love the idea of having the ability to simple “reset” and start over, and it was interesting to see the way that the author shaped the effects of this freedom on different characters. Some thrived, some stayed out of the way, some wanted nothing more than to go home, and some questioned what it was they truly wanted. It was a large cast of characters, to be sure, but with only two POVs I think the author handled it well. Another great thing: this cast is so diverse. The two main characters are Mary, a bad-mouthed orphan with a knack for not following the rules, and Dalip, a young Sikh and engineer.

Dalip struggles with his idea of identity in a place that doesn’t even have his religion, and Mary struggles with who she wants to be: as a reformed criminal and orphan before she came to this world, she has a choice now: she can either run away and make a life for herself with no rules and no one to tell her what to do, or she can rescue the people she may have come to think of as friends.

DOWN-STATION1.jpg

Props for the beautiful cover, though!

My biggest issue, and the reason I simply can’t read any further, is that I couldn’t actually connect with these characters at all. I didn’t feel anything for any of them, and I couldn’t really root for their success.

Of what I did read, up to about 68 percent, I’d give it a 2/5. It was interesting, but not very original (portal fantasy with light magical elements [including a dragon]), and throughout the book there was so little explanation of what was going on that it all felt kind of pointless. I wanted to learn more, but I’d like that learning to be sprinkled throughout the book, not just dumped at the end so as to blow my mind.

Down Station is available now! Check it out if you’re interested.

 

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