2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 0 books toward her goal of 200 books.

Book Review: Die Back (The Alchimeia) by Richard Hacker

I really liked the beginning of this one, but somewhere in the middle it started to lose the larger story in the threads of the smaller, time traveling, ones – and that’s where it started to lose me…

This is a great concept and an original take on time travel – which is becoming an increasingly uncommon thing to be able to say, given the proliferation of the topic practically into its own genre. The idea of the pens and traveling into the minds of the dead worked. It opened up almost limitless possibilities for mini-stories and sub-plots, and I really liked that – at first. But once the characters started spending more and more time locked in their traveled-into personae, I felt like the main purpose of the book (uncovering/foiling the plot by Kairos) got subsumed and floundered for a bit.

While I found the historical interludes interesting, I felt like they were meant to be sidebars rather than the main story – and dozens upon dozens of pages on detailing what happened in those interludes distracted me from the underlying mystery and suspense and really upended the pacing of the book for me. At that point I felt more like I was reading a compilation of small historical fiction stories – and many of them were set in time periods that I wouldn’t normally consider of great personal interest, so I struggled to stay with the book at those times. It kept pulling me in and out of what was otherwise a wholly engaging series of circumstances and revelations, and I found it a bit of a slog as a result.

Once things snapped back to focus on fixing the timeline and figuring out who underpinned the deaths of Addison’s parents I thought the book mostly fell back into its rhythm, although never to quite the enticing extent of the first third of the story. The book leaves a clear opening for future installments, but does a nice job at tying up the most pressing loose ends, which I appreciated. It’s a personal pet peeve when a book stops in the middle of a story; this book did not do that, and could be read as a whole story in and of itself. There are clearly questions remaining, but they set the scene for the next volumes rather than tease-force you into buying it.

On the whole this was a fun read. I enjoyed the beginning and the characters enough that I’m curious to see what happens next – although do hope that the emphasis on advancing the major story, with color commentary rather than so much in-depth detail from the historical tidbits.

My review copy was provided by BookSirens.

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