Aparajitabasu's Reviews > Roil

Roil by Trent Jamieson
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Jul 02, 2011

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bookshelves: review-copy, arc, netgalley, fiction, sci-fi, steampunk
Read from July 02 to 16, 2011

Good enough but not that great here I present before you my views on Trent Jamieson's upcoming book Roil .

Here is the summary of the book:

Shale is in trouble - the creature-filled darkness known as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land, swallowing cities whole. Where once there were 12 metropolises, now only 4 remain. It's up to a drug addict, an old man and a woman bent on revenge to try to save their city - and the world.

Its steampunk - its sci-fi - its full of action and its a dystopic future and on top of that a gorgeous cover -- great combination which should make for a good enough read for me but somehow I lost interest half way through. Lets speculate why....

So, in the south last defence of civilisation, city of Tate succumbs to Roil, a chaotic mass of creatures with one consciousness, that came out from the core of the planet. Roil can't stand the cold, which is the only weapon of the last human cities against its invasion. Margaret, the only daughter of Tate engineers manages to get out of the dying city and heads off up north. In the north David, an addict and a son of one of the leaders of the opposition to the current tyrant watches his father die from the hands of Vergers, some sort of genetically modified human hunters. His father's friends arrange his passage away from the city with the help of one of the Old Men, half-mad and very strange Cadell.

Cadell on the other hand has got his own agenda. He is one of the first Engineers who built the Engine of the World, but they played too much with it, civilisation crumbled to what it is now and the Engineers were cursed with virtual immortality, madness and perpetual cannibalistic hunger for human flesh. Cadell wants to see the extent of damage the Roil has done and get to The Engine to switch on the cold and destroy the Roil.

The thing I loved about this book and which I thought was its strongest quality was the creative & robust world-building. Too often in steampunk-infused fiction, the tech is simply used as ornamentation—bells & whistles without much purpose or functionality. In Roil, the tech, which included endothermic weaponry, semi-organic aircrafts, and colossal steam-operated trains & vessels, took center stage right alongside the characters that continuously relied upon it. Moreover, I appreciated the assortment of unique characters and the unusual, slightly ragtag team of heroes. I have to admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for unconventional protagonists who are rough around the edges and who start off without a single heroic bone in their body, but then end up doing heroic things much to their own surprise.

But there were certain aspects of the book that made them unappealing to me. My first complaint is based mostly on personal preference and that is the use of multiple character perspectives. It is not advised to use too many POVs while writing a novel and more than two POVs tend to be distracting and confusing. Roil incorporates multiple different perspectives of both major and minor characters. I could understand the purpose of this—a way to compliment the sprawling magnitude of the story and fantasy world—but didn't like it at all. My dislike was compounded by the fact that I felt the transitions between those perspectives were often done too abruptly and not always very cohesive in nature. A fact that somewhat detached me from the story line.

Then over the three main characters - Margaret, Cadell and David. All three somewhat felt under-developed and making me not feel attached to them at all.

And finally the pacing was a bit uneven. The first half of the book was rather sluggish with a few bursts of action accompanied by lots of traveling between locations and talking without clear explanation which thoroughly turned turned about for the next part. It took me half a book to get into it and somewhat made me give it up. But I suppose any of you could give it a chance - well second chances should be given.
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07/04/2011 page 27
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