Jo's Reviews > The Long Earth

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett
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really liked it
bookshelves: speculative-fiction

Reading a collaboration between two authors is always an interesting experience. You kind of expect to be able to pick the parts that were written by each individual author. But that rarely turns out to be the case -- especially in the case of a good collaboration.

When I read a collaboration, I try to remind myself that I'm essentially reading a book by a brand new author -- one that just happens to have a similar style to each of the authors involved. And in the case of THE LONG EARTH, I'm glad I went into the book with that attitude. Because that's exactly what it was like.

Leaving aside my previous experience with both Pratchett (one of my all-time fave authors) and Baxter (only a passing familiarity), this was an interesting and entertaining read. The concept of the book -- that there are millions of alternate Earths out there, and people can learn to step between them at all -- is one that most fans of speculative fiction will be familiar with. But I found Pratchett/Baxter's take on it to be both original and comprehensive.

The tricky part of the read was in remembering that, at its heart, this is a book where the plot is:

(1) Protagonist joins with allies to journey into the unknown.
(2) Protagonist learns something about the world and himself.
(3) Protagonist journeys home.

This story arc -- simplistic as it is -- carries the entire novel. And as the journey progresses, there are a number of side-stories that take place, and minor characters introduced. But they are only side-stories. We don't get to see the end (and sometimes the start) of the stories -- they exist merely to either (a) show some facet of the main character, or (b) show some facet of the world.

Our aforementioned protagonist, Joshua, is an interesting kettle of fish. He's an outsider. He's always been an outsider. He's... different. And he's had to come to terms with that and accept his differences, even if he doesn't understand them. (And really, what person can't relate to that at some level?)

I found Joshua interesting and relateable -- much more than his sidekick in the adventure, an apparently all-knowing computer slash reincarnated Tibetan slash vending machine. Lobsang (because that's his name) was more of a plot device than a supporting character. But, you know what? I didn't mind.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. The only downside was that, due to the journey style of the narrative, it was hard to really feel engaged in to the story. So while I wanted to find out what happened next, I could easily have put the book down for a few weeks and then picked it back up again without feeling any regret.

I shall be reading the next book in the series.
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Reading Progress

August 12, 2013 – Started Reading
August 12, 2013 – Shelved
August 22, 2013 – Finished Reading
August 26, 2013 – Shelved as: speculative-fiction

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