Friday, January 13, 2012
Review: The Half- Made World by Felix Gilman
Tor, October 12, 2010
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy
The world is only half made. What exists has been carved out amidst a war between two rival factions: the Line, paving the world with industry and claiming its residents as slaves; and the Gun, a cult of terror and violence that cripples the population with fear. The only hope at stopping them has seemingly disappeared—the Red Republic that once battled the Gun and the Line, and almost won. Now they’re just a myth, a bedtime story parents tell their children, of hope.
To the west lies a vast, uncharted world, inhabited only by the legends of the immortal and powerful Hill People. Liv Alverhyusen, a doctor of the new science of psychology, travels to the edge of the made world to a spiritually protected mental institution in order to study the minds of those broken by the Gun and the Line. In its rooms lies an old general of the Red Republic, a man whose shattered mind just may hold the secret to stopping the Gun and the Line. And either side will do anything to understand how.
The Half-Made World is one of those books that I enjoy immensely while reading but once I've finished, I realize that there are enough questions left and flaws that I'm disappointed.
The Half-Made World gives snapshots of extensive world building but when all is said and done, I don't feel that I understand the world at all. I still don't understand the motives of the Gun and the Line and I don't even have a vague idea about what the Gun does beside oppose the Line. I can tell that Gilman knows the world inside and out but he doesn't make the connection to sharing that knowledge with the reader.
Another thing that I struggled with was the characters themselves. I had a hard time relating and connecting with the characters. I often found them fascinating but there weren't any likable characters.
I did really enjoy the adventure that the characters found themselves undertaking. I loved the mix of technology and magic and how the world itself becomes a character. I thought that the pacing of the novel was excellent and it certainly kept me turning the pages.
While The Half-Made World didn't live up to my excitement, it still was an enjoyable read. It definitely feels like the set-up for another book, which I will read in the hope that it will add more detail to the world building.