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Noah's Raven Paperback – August 5, 2015
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About the Author
Jacob Haqq-Misra lives in Clayton, Delaware with his wife Gina and their cats. He holds a Ph.D. in meteorology and astrobiology, and he has written dozens of scientific journal articles on topics that include planetary habitability, extraterrestrial life, and environmental ethics. He is the author of Planetary Messenger, a philosophical novel that explores the implications of discovering life elsewhere. He is a research scientist with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, a contributing editor at EARTH magazine, and a percussionist in the psychedelic rock band Mysterytrain.
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Aside from those differences, though, distinguishing between the timelines was surprisingly negligible. This is a style of worldbuilding seen in films like "Interstellar" or "The Martian," where only the barest of differences from the present day get acknowledged where pertinent to the plot; not a bad setup in itself, of course, but worth knowing going in. Specifically, there is the key event to which title alludes (I hesitate to elaborate, as I got the impression readers are meant to discover it naturally) and an acknowledgement of people hired to control the weather. The book offers these ideas--and the passions and pursuits of numerous characters--to comment on climate change and what I saw as the notion of addiction versus hope, although they erratically shift from text to subtext.
As far as the prose goes, I would describe it as both utilitarian and a bit wordy. The writing overall is strong--the plot structure is as tight as a drum, and evocative metaphors and turns of phrase pepper internal monologues and scenery descriptions throughout--but I often found myself distracted by mentally editing a character's actions or attitude to be just as accurately described with two words instead of five or six. This made the pace come across as pretty slow, although that does sometimes work to the benefit of suspense... and to be fair, I read it gradually over a month, so that probably made it seem slower than it really is.
Having said that, the ending is without a doubt astonishing and exciting. However, while it's not a twist per se, it does sort of come out of nowhere, particularly on the heels of how gradual and subdued everything leading up to it is. The journey the characters take to get there wouldn't have had the same impact if hints had been dropped earlier, though, so it's understandable.