It's an extremely fun premise that loses some momentum because the flaw of the titular Fold is easy to figure outWavering between two and three stars.
It's an extremely fun premise that loses some momentum because the flaw of the titular Fold is easy to figure out if you're steeped at all in science fiction tropes. The clues are everywhere and you can see where things are heading pretty easily.
The biggest demerit, though, is that the narrative "punchline" only resonates if you're familiar with a previous book by Cline. It's enough of a head-scratcher to people like me who haven't read that previous book that an afterword was necessary to explain this not so inconsequential bit. Suddenly the weirdly unexplained moments became clear as references, but references to things that apparently are in this other book. Even if it's not a sequel (a "side-quel", the author calls it), I feel annoyed that the explanation of a huge chunk of the story is likely contained in another book.
tl;dr: I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if I knew I first needed the background of a previous book to understand the unexplained stuff....more
I read this because my brother said he'd heard, from many people over time, that this was just about the scariest book ever written. I'm happy to sayI read this because my brother said he'd heard, from many people over time, that this was just about the scariest book ever written. I'm happy to say that the rumors of its scariness have been greatly exaggerated.
I think it's utter dreck, and probably dross as well. I have a hard time understanding why this won the World Fantasy Award (which I'm completely unfamiliar with, shame on me) when its competition that year included ANY other books, two of which I did read, and which I remember enjoying much more than this (The Vampire Lestat, The Damnation Game).
Almost from the get go I saw this book as White-Westerner goes to Brown-People Country and gets horrified by everything. And so it went for the ENTIRE length of the book. Everyone who was not white is unpleasant? Yup! (Unless they were the wife or the sexy vixen of a non-character who the White Westerner can ogle). Brown people compared to animals? Yup! Monkey, toad, rabbit... Terribly narrow rendering of an entire city, culture, and religion? Yup! Flip open to any page and you'll have an example. When pretty much every non-western character is dehumanized into repulsive or otherworldly caricatures, you'd have to be willfully naive to say "it's just a setting, it could be anywhere!"
While a couple of "scary" or "creepy" things happen in the book, none of it really ties together very well. While other readers mention the dread or conspiracy they felt permeated the book, all I saw was this bumbling main character acting like how the perfect dunder-headed horror victim should in order for the story to fulfill its purpose. Nothing really makes sense story-wise unless you see it as a narrative necessity in order for the book to be a horror book. The main character's turning point into madness is a wet dream he has about the goddess Kali. Thereafter he's sorta kinda in thrall to her but only to explain his being a jerk to his wife (nevermind that he's a jerk in general). I never got the sense that anything supernatural happened to him, only that he was disturbed so much by this different culture that it made him crazy (like another reviewer points out, similar to Heart of Darkness, which has it's own history of being a literary touchstone of racism and xenophobia).
This book, just, no! Whoever thinks they're getting a cultural lesson about India, please, stop. Whoever thinks this is a good horror book, either I'm not so easily scared or... I don't even know how to finish that sentence. If you're scared by third world countries, brown people, or clumsily vague supernatural conspiracy theories then this is your kind of horror.
I have to admit I was truly horrified by this book, but not in the way it intended....more