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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)

The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1) - Terry Pratchett,  Stephen Baxter I really want to jump in and absolutely love this book. It’s no secret that I adore Terry Pratchett, and I like it when authors branch out and do something different. And it’s about parallel Earths? I was so ready to go in and love this. But when I got to the halfway point, I felt like I was slogging through and didn’t want to finish. The thing that I love about Pratchett’s writing is that he takes a concept/idea, and crafts a story around it with characters who I care about and love and hate and are interesting, while throwing in a few good puns every once in a while. (I’m not really focusing on Stephen Baxter, because this is the first thing I’ve ever read by him. I am interested in picking one of his books up, just to get a good idea on his writing style.) The Long Earth has a great concept, but there’s no great story to go along with it. There are parts of a good story in here—I like the idea of people travelling to alternate, uninhabited Earths to carve out a new life—but it’s tossed away in favor for a rambling travelogue occasionally punctuated with philosophical discussions, random encounters and a bare reminder of a plot development. Nothing really happens for a good chunk of the book. There’s an idea that the creatures on these other worlds are running away from something! Hey, let’s talk about why they’re so humanoid instead. There’s colonists from America making their way across these Earths! And people who can’t step who are starting political movements! Oh, but they’re not on a scientific mission; carry on. There’s all of this interesting development that doesn’t get explored at the novel, and at best, gets explained at the very end, all at once. Part of the problem is the characters we’re following for the majority of the book. You have Lobsang, an…android-hopping consciousness, and Joshua, a natural stepper who saved a group of kids when he was younger. (I admit to facepalming when people nonironically refer to him as the Chosen One.) And I like these characters in general. What I don’t like is that they’re both very logical characters. Whenever they encounter the creatures on the other worlds, there’s a moment of surprise, and then it turns to logical discussion on how these creatures formed. I would have liked to have seen the colonists’ progressions across the Long Earth, gotten their reactions to some of the creatures mentioned throughout the book. What would a colony unfamiliar with the concept of trolls would have done? There’s so many better ways these ideas could have been explored. And it’s such a strong concept. I actually like some of the theories surrounding the existence of the Long Earth and creatures that are dubbed trolls and elves. I love that one of the theories posited is that the Long Earth was the basis for the legends of Faerie and human abductions by otherworldly creatures. I also really like the fact that none of these Earths are parallel as we like to think—they’re all largely uninhabited, with no major civilizations spanning the globe. The passage with the colonists and the blog of Helen Green were also really interesting, because it felt like how normal people would react to so many different places and the wildlife living there. I wanted more of that in here.And it’s not a badly written book. My only problem with the writing itself is that it’s supposed to take place in Wisconsin, but none of the American characters sound like they’re American. (Or in the case of the ‘bad guys,’ they sound like Eddie Izzard’s American impersonation.) There’s some very interesting conceptions that get explored in here. But my issue overall is that it’s so focused on the concept, and doesn’t tell a story to go along with it.