Joseph Mitchell has crafted a wonderful piece of work with Shard Mountain. Reading this book is like watching a master juggler at work. He keeps dozens of creative balls, artistic daggers and literary chainsaws in the air simultaneously. And drops nary a one.
The story centers around two petty criminals, Charles and Jake, who meet on their bus ride to prison. One is a geek with too many unpaid tickets; the other, a stoner who jaywalked at the absolute worst time. The bus is in an accident with a military convoy and the pair, along with one of their guards, wakes up 571 years later. Mutants, mind reading, and mayhem ensue.
In telling this tale, Mitchell requires his readers to engage all seven senses (and then some) as he describes his version of Earth in the year 2581. The post apocalyptic world that he creates is vivid, lush and full of imaginative wonders. Similar to the world of Dune that Frank Herbert created more than forty years ago, this version of earth is as much a character in this book as any named protagonist.
As for flaws, there weren't many. There were a few typos, but they were easily steamrolled by the tale. Also, this book is longer than most. Not a negative by itself, but there are one or two areas that could be trimmed without hurting the story. Other than those minor items, this book was darn near perfect. One of the best books I have read in a long time. Which is why I am giving it a very solid 5 stars!
Well, I can't say I didn't tear through this book; because I did. Mitchell sets up some interesting characters and plot lines and then takes the reader tearing along with him. However, even a moderate edit would have made that a more enjoyable ride.
Initially the three main characters are relatively believable. But only one of them, Charles, seemed to grow in any appreciable way, though his passage from indolent loser to altruistic hero strains credulity more than surviving 500 years in cryogenic stasis.
Jake the stoner seems lifted from the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure handbook. Actually, the author himself couldn't help himself presenting Jake as a Keanu Reeves character synthesis; right down to the author's slightly breathless description of his good looks and hot body. In the beginning I was getting a slight vibe that the Jake might be black, which would have made for a refreshing change in the all-white (except for green, of course) world of science fiction, but in fact I was relieved that that wasn't supported as Jake turned into stoner Keanu Reeves instead.
The prison guard, Parker, seemed to me the character with the most interesting potential for development , but his character collapsed into utter flatness about halfway through and was never resuscitated.
And the lesser characters. Come on! The sexy older lady is named Giz? Giz? For reals? Brother Kevin's relentless goodness is not explained by his past. Trying to be good, yes, but being so bloody selfless all the time, no.
I found myself believing in the bonding and friendships throughout. Who couldn't survive an attack by sabre toothed bunnies and not feel closer to his mates? But mates, it turns out, can only be so close.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
The book suffers an identity crisis. Does it want to be post apocalyptic drama? A futuristic western? A romance, a man vs. Machine type of book? It has all this and it's a bit scattered and goes off on tangents that we don't need to go on. About half way through I started fast forwarding. It gets really good as soon as they get to Shard Mountain but it takes much too long to go there and we have to go through scene after scene of townspeople taking about how great these Cryotes and how much they like to drink and party and... That's great and everything but the story stalls during these scenes. It doesn't add anything to the adventure. I think it would have been a better book if cut in half and if had been more focused.
Was this review helpful to you?
First of all, this book is LONG. It's the size of 2-3 average sized books, so it's an amazing deal. Author Joseph Mitchell manages to create an engaging futuristic world that has been destroyed by a war. Set 500 years into the future, the book follows the story of 3 modern-day humans after they wake up in a world inhabited by mutants, confused robots, and humans living with a strange mix of ancient technology and futuristic machines.
It started off a little slowly while the setting was built up and characters introduced. The descriptions are easy to follow and I found myself fascinated by this world that could be so familiar, yet so strange at the same time. It took me awhile to get attached to the characters, but as I grew to know and understand them better, I found myself rooting for them as they began a winding journey through this future-Earth.
I found myself unable to put down the book during the last 1/3 as the conflict really shaped up. The editing in this book is excellent and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys apocalyptic fantasy. The details are amazing and although I felt bogged down with them at times, the overall story was excellent enough that I could push past them. A good read!