Thursday, February 5, 2015
Review: 'Pacific Fire' by Greg Van Eekhout
You know those books where the first book was so much better than the second book? This isn't one of those. This is one of those books where an idea from the first book bears unexpected fruit in the second one. I really liked California Bones, but Pacific Fire may be the book that in the future I will say I became a fan of Van Eekhout.
This book stands just fine without having read the first book, the major plot points get hit on, without revealing too much that will spoil the joy of reading of it, and that's a tough road to hew to. This has been my favorite book I've read this year so far.
While Van Eekhout isn't writing for beautiful prose (there are no lush descriptions of the majestic Pacific) he does something I appreciate almost as much; he writes a lean fast-paced book that moves. He doesn't waste space writing glorious prose. And for the type of book this is, I really like that.
I hate to say I miss Daniel a lot in this book. It's not a spoiler, it's in the cover blurb, but Daniel isn't our main character. While Sam's voice grows on you in the same way that Daniel did in the first book, I just missed Daniel. That likely says a lot about how well Greg can write a character you grow to care about, doesn't it?
I like the world Van Eekhout has built, in a 'magic world I have no desire to live in' kind of way. This isn't Narnia, or even Hogwarts. The powerful in this world are food for the more powerful. And when you're at the top of the heap, you have to worry about everyone below you. It feels like the apocalypse is going to happen at any moment (seriously, you just know Northern California is just going to fuck up his alternate LA eventually).
I think Greg does a great job of managing expectations in this book, and I think the way he switches gears on you, so that you don't always know what you think you know, is consistently well done. When Daniel and Sam fuck things up, and things go wrong, it's at times and places where that's likely to happen.
My only way I can wrap this up is, oh god how long til the third book?!?