Reading Level: Adult
Size: 448 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Empire State series
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 2/5 stars
I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program to review. The second book in this series will be titled The Age Atomic and is scheduled for a March 2013 release. This sounded like an awesome premise for a story and I was excited to read this book. I started this book two or three times and just couldn’t get into it. I finally was determined to read it over Christmas break. I again had a lot of trouble getting through the first 30 pages or so, but the story improved a bit after that.
The story follows Rex and Rad. Rad is a PI who ends up investigating the disappearance of a young woman in the Empire State. Rex is a mobster who ends up in the Empire State (originally from New York city) and is disoriented and confused by his presence there.
The style is kind of a blend of crime, urban fantasy, and steampunk. The story is incredibly original; involving parallel worlds, super heroes, steam driven power, and rifts in time. It kind of reminds of a Doctor Who episode, the movie Dark City also comes to mind.
Rex is a mobster type character that is very unlikable and very hard to relate to. I had a lot of trouble reading through the parts where he featured.
Rad was a much more interesting character that was easier to engage with. The portions where he features in the story were a lot more interesting. Despite the fact that he is a heavy drinker and always on the edge of self-destruction, Rad is determined to do his job and solve the mystery set in front of him. I admired his determination.
There are a variety of other characters, all of them fairly forgettable since they are in and out of the story quite rapidly.
As the story continues and things get more and more complex (with double of the same characters but from different parallel areas) things got very ambiguous and hard to follow. The story became a burden to read and I had a lot of trouble picturing the story and characters. I struggled through it and I understood what was going on, but I really didn’t enjoy it.
This book is not an easy or pleasant read. The characters are hard to relate to. The story is especially fractured towards the second half of the book as it rapidly switches between a number of different POVs. It becomes hard to follow and boring. The ending felt rushed and forced.
Overall not a great read. I really really wanted to like this book. The premise is pretty neat and you have super heroes, steampunk, and investigative elements…all things I enjoy. Unfortunately, the characters were hard to relate to or engage with. Also as you approach the end of the story it becomes very fractured switching rapidly between numerous points of view, all in all it makes for a difficult and unpleasant read. By the end of this book I was just happy to be finished with it. I won’t be reading any more books in this series which is a pity because it sounds so cool.