Friday, 25 August 2017

REVIEW: "The Fold: A Novel" by Peter Clines

Book Review by Sapphire Ng

The Fold: A Novel
by Peter Clines
Broadway Books
Copyright March 2016
Paperback, 384 Pages

An exceptionally satisfying read that reminded me of the remarkable joys of reading. Ingeniously weaved into the narrative were themes of the subversion of time and space, instability of reality and identity, and the confusion of consciousness and awareness; these themes necessitated by the grave scientific crisis that defined the apex of the plot. Fiercely fascinating and at times fear-inducing, this plot was driven by equal parts intellectual action and physical action. An astounding work of science fiction and scientific mystery that brings the reader upon a worthwhile adventure.

The very mysterious Albuquerque Door project formed the crux of the plot. The reader might suspect the implication of an unforgivably complex and scientific subject matter, the narrative however was very thoughtfully straightforward and very easy and quick to read. The sense of mystery in the plot was not deafening, but measured, and evoked a healthy share of anticipation and excitement in the reader. Most of all, prior knowledge in the technicalities of, or even passion in the complexities of, science is not necessary to enjoy this book.

I relished that this was a satiating read, both intellectually and adrenaline-wise. The novel’s heart-thumping and fast-paced climactic action along the lines of saving humanity and heeding survival instincts was beautifully balanced out with intellectual speculation, scientific brainstorm, theoretical hypothesis, and logical reasoning, as faithfully exemplified by the male protagonist, Mike Erikson. 

Though certainly meant as a peripheral interpolation in the narrative, I appreciated the commentary—not exactly impeccably balanced, but also not one-sided—made in the book pertaining to the identity of being a genius. The protagonist Erikson was introduced early on in the novel as one with a superhuman eidetic memory. The portrayal of one so gifted was made complete with the reader’s attention also drawn to the potential downsides and burden that come with such impossible talent. This minor bit of reality check however certainly didn’t stop me from personally desiring at least 1% of this man’s brain power, if only it were possible to be attained through sheer hard work and dedication. 

An intermediate resolution in the novel around the end of the first half of the book was however less than gratifying, that which resolved the novel’s secondary mystery and which pertained to the scientific function of the Albuquerque Door. The almost convenient and simplistic resolution weaved into the narrative regarding this preliminary mystery surrounding the actual workings of the Door gave the impression that it was hastily settled in order to expedite the novel’s transition to the next segment of the plot, that which dealt with the development of events which would lead to the climactic action of the novel.

The almost sudden leap to a wild hypothesis regarding the scientific nature of the operation of the Door might even be considered tenable when contrasted alongside the virtually immediate and acquiescent acceptance of such a hypothesis by the Albuquerque Door’s resident scientific team, in a way that was curiously inconsistent against manifested characteristics of these professionals. 

Some might consider the sudden transpiration of this wild hypothesis, though unexpected, to be congruent with the narrative since it was conceived by the novel’s resident genius, the protagonist Erikson, whose brain powers seemed comfortably beyond the reach of readers and the author alike. From the perspective of a reader however, it felt like the plot skimped on narrative discoveries and circumstances that could at least more systematically pave the way for the plausible deduction of the hypothesis thus raised by Erikson. I personally would have appreciated a more solid narrative foundation that could better logically guide me to the hypothesis in question, over that which would require a leap of faith on my part.

Moreover, considering the immense intellectual rigor, and well-honed deductive and reasoning skills, of the Door’s resident science team since displayed in the narrative, it was thus more than suspect that Erikson’s wild hypothesis was met with virtually nonexistent skepticism. The near lack of analytical resistance and any notable manifestation of doubt, the unquestioning trust and almost immediate engagement in conversation in absolute acceptance of the wild theory as truth indeed required the suspension of belief on my part as a reader. At worst, the uncharacteristic surrender of these professionals in the field of logic to an untested and uncontested hypothesis could only be construed as a mere narrative vessel to allow the plot to advance.  

Despite potential flaws, this novel remains a commendably composed work of science fiction that provided much entertainment. I certainly would be looking forward to immersing myself in more delightfully creative works, even if it might yet again involve a doomsday scenario of a science experiment gone wrong. 

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to the publisher nor the author of the book. This book review is the result of my personal reading and honest opinion.

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