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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review: Archform: Beauty

Archform Beauty (Kindle Edition) is best described as a thriller. While there's suspense, there's not really any mystery --- we learn who the villain is early on, and even get scenes devote to his machinations.

The story is set in the prehistory of Adiamante, around the same era as Flash, but with a narrative set around four people rather than one. They are Professor Cornett, a music professor and singer at the University of Denver, a Trend Analyst from the local police department Eugene Chiang, the Senator from Colorado Mr. Cannon, and a local news researcher Mr. Parsfal. The four narratives revolve around their individual lives and intersect only peripherally until near the end of the story where everything comes together.

Unfortunately, while the jigsaw puzzles do line up and are themselves interesting, this technique robs the overall story of its narrative power. Only midway through the novel do you realize that this seemingly irrelevant piece of news was actually relevant, and even then you never really get a good feel for the political involvements because you never quite feel included in the world, with all this skipping around character by character. The net result is that when the characters are in danger, you're also not really too excited either.

The characters are well-written and well-formed, though Senator Cannon seems a little unrealistic --- he's clearly a womanizer, but doesn't act on his obvious attraction to members of the opposite sex, because he knows he'll get caught. Wait. That doesn't describe any politician I can think of.

I borrowed this book from the library, and while it's not a waste of time, I can't quite recommend it either. Incidentally, this being one of the first paper novels I read since I acquired the Kindle, I did find it annoying to read a dead tree compared to the electronic device --- the book is heavy, won't stay opened or lay flat, and I can't change the font-size. Who would have thought that 7 months of exclusively reading on the Kindle would have made me think that paper books are obsolete?

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