Happy Tuesday one and all! Today’s book review is a trip to a slightly futuristic, slightly alternate (although, scarily, not very futuristic or very alternate) world in which the fight for survival is – for a select few – very literal. My review copy of Blue Fall was generously provided by the author, B.B. Griffith.
Blue Fall. An enigmatic title – and one whose origin/meaning I’m still not entirely sure about, even after finishing the book. It could be literal (can’t explain without a spoiler, sorry). It could be figurative – the fall of humanity, of logic, of sanity on the Blue Planet (Earth). Those are my leading two interpretations, anyway, and I can’t tell you which I think is more likely to be the intended referent. I love when that happens. I like when an author leaves some interpretive elements of the reading experience up to me, when everything isn’t packaged up with a tidy little ribbon. That is definitely the case with B.B. Griffith’s first “Tournament” book.
The world of Blue Fall is cutthroat and violent and sophisticated – and it’s layered over the everyday, mundane existence of 99+% of the population. You see, the uber-rich and uber-powerful have set up a game, of sorts – a game that decides the fate of people and nations. The Tournament. What a deliciously simple yet extremely complex concept for this game – the ultimate contact sport, both for those who participate and for the unwitting 99+% of the people surrounding them. Nations sponsor teams of three members each. The teams compete for national pride and positioning in a series of rounds that pit one team against another until one single winner is left standing. Quite literally. For the teams, the point is survival; for the uber-rich and uber-powerful, the point is winning. And make no mistake – survival and winning are not even remotely the same thing.
You see, the uber-rich and uber-powerful get to bet on the outcome of the Tournament rounds – and the stakes are ever-increasing. No longer satisfied with winning money and national pride, the bets are now starting to run toward global defense, economics/financing, and politics. There is no physical risk to the bettors – that’s saved for the participants. A team of scientists have devised a weapon system that allows the combatants to fire actual guns at one another that will only temporarily kill; a series of treatments and, let’s say, biological adjustments, mean that the participants can be healed from their Tournament weapon injuries. Of course, that’s just the participants. The poor 99+% don’t always fare quite so well. The stakes are rising, you see – and the nature of the games, the participants, and those gambling on the combined world future are changing as a result.
It’s a little sci-fi meets the ultimate power game. It’s also a lot of fun.
B.B. Griffith has managed to craft a clever, futuristic yet-not-too-futuristic, world in which there’s just enough new technology to keep a science fiction fan happy and just enough action-packed violence to keep an action-junkie happy. The characters are well-crafted. The heroes are eminently likeable and the villains are dreadfully evil – and there are a handful of characters that defy such polarized categorization, which makes them all the more interesting and entertaining, to my way of thinking. There’s cool science/medical technology here, fascinating geo-political implications, and even a little romance – and it’s all packaged in an extremely engaging story that hooked me from the get-go.
There are a couple of spots where the description seems to slow the pacing down, which made me start skimming a little every now and again. As I’ve spent more time writing myself, as well as more time talking with authors, I’ve come to associate this type of occasional over-descriptiveness with an author who gets as wrapped up in their own story as the reader does. To me, that’s not a bad thing – not at all. It means the author loves their story too, and gets as lost in the world they’ve created as their readers do. I think that’s a strength an author brings to the table – if you can lose yourself in the story you are telling, you must be telling a damn good story. It’s a signal to me that the author is enthusiastic and therefore likely to take me on a fabulous journey. Unfortunately, it also sometimes slows up the pacing of that journey. That’s where a professional editor comes in – someone who can snap the author out of the excitement of their own story and keep things flowing in a manner that lets those of us who aren’t in the author’s head stay focused and on track at a steady speed.
That aside, this is a wild ride and one that I definitely want another crack at. I read this on kindle, and when I suddenly realized I was at 95% I was starting to wonder how in the heck it was all going to tie together. It does and it doesn’t – in exactly the right proportions. The ending leaves you with just enough questions to whet your appetite for the next book – and just enough teasers to keep you waiting as long as you have to in order to get it. That’s a fine line to walk. Very well done B.B. Griffith, very well done indeed… Don’t miss this one folks – trust me. Oh, and I can already see the movie in my head, and it’s going to be fabulous. Just saying…