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Argh, this book. It's so "Hollywood" and by that I mean it reads like a Hollywood script, like the author is full of Big!Ideas! and he can totally visualize Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson playing Paul Donner and Maggie.
It's got Big!Ideas! executed with the finesse of a mediocre comic book scriptwriter doing a bleh imitation of Raymond Chandler.
Oh, I shouldn't be so harsh. The premise is fairly entertaining. A New York City police detective named Paul Donner who stumbled into a hold-up at a bodega gets murdered along with his wife in 2012. Forty years later, he comes back to life. It turns out that some sort of artificially created retrovirus triggered an event known as "the Shift," which literally brings the dead back to life, rejuvenating their bodies. They aren't zombies, they're just reborn. "Rebes," in this futuristic setting, are a feared and despised underclass who creep "normal" people out, in the first of many plot points which really didn't make much sense to me. Like I said, they aren't undead. They do age backwards, meaning they become younger and younger until they literally revert to fetuses and die, but basically they are the same people they were, so there's no reason for everyone to treat them like the walking dead, but because the retrovirus is supposedly contagious, a corporation called Surezal has literally built a wall around New York City (yes, a wall around the whole of New York City!) and turned it into a quarantined police state.
Donner is assigned a counselor "smartie," or artificial intelligence, named Maggie. Who despite being an advanced artificial intelligence spends the entire book being a cardboard cliche of a woman who blubbers emotionally at every tense moment and falls in love with Donner. Conspiracies then ensue, as Donner and his holographic girl Friday (but don't worry, a holographic artificial intelligence whose true form is a glowing sphere can totally have sex!) are manipulated and betrayed and jerked from one startling revelation to the next.
The plot goes in interesting but frequently dumb directions. I will admit that I didn't quite see the Big Reveal coming, and there was at least one twist that surprised me (though most of the others were entirely predictable), but the Big Reveal was.... stupid. As was the James Bond plot and sociopathic villain, yet another cardboard cliche woman, this one a cooing sociopath with monomolecular Japanese "tantos" (why is it always with the Japanese gimmickry? like no one else in the history of the world ever made sharp weapons?) tucked up her sleeves.
There are several minor characters introduced for the sole purpose of dying and revealing some minor plot point that the author couldn't more intelligently fit into the storyline. The world of 2054 (at least New York City, which is all we see) is imaginative in a painted-over-cyberpunk kind of way, full of jokes about reborn celebrities, and retro fashion as apparently everyone decides to emulate the styles of various early 20th century eras, all of this mixing with flying cars, artificial intelligences, and plasma rifles.
This could have been a good book, but it just spiked my BS-meter way too often. Master villains should act like master villains, not idiots who conveniently leave big red buttons labeled "PUSH ME TO DEFEAT THE BAD GUY!" lying around. The characterization was cliched, the dialog trite, the prose flat. It's not a terrible book, but it irked me with its wasted potential, all the bad points irritating me too much to really enjoy it as a fun if dumb read, which at least would have earned it 3 stars.
The narration was okay, but the narrator put a lot of breathless panic and shock and emotion into all the characters' dialog, at times making everyone seem pretty emo, which just made the characters annoy me that much more.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
I won't reveal anything you wouldn't get from the dust jacket - the premise is a not too distant future New York City, quarantined because it's experiencing an epidemic where the dead return to life. No magic. Corpses regenerate and begin aging backward until a second death occurs - cause unknown but assumed to have a scientific explanation.
The result is a New York City with all manner of renaissances. People from different time periods congregating in certain parts of town. Zoot suits and fedoras along side sci-fi outfits. Great potential for a noir detective story.
The story is just that, and it isn't bad. But I got nothing from character development. Also, the first person narration was histrionic. If you wind up getting the book after reading this review, leave a review of your own and let me know if I'm crazy, or if the narrator's default tone was "tremulous on the verge of collapse"....uses it all over the place. If I worked with someone like this, I'd be asking HR to move my desk for fear he might break down crying at any second.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful