I am not a huge Sci-Fi fan. While I have (thanks to some recommendations from my brothers) read a few Sci-Fi stories in the past, it's never been an ..Show More »area I was that comfortable in or drawn to.
When I received notification that my pre-order for Atopia was in my library and ready for download, I was a little stumped; when had I ordered this? Why would I have? I read the synopsis and could see why I may have been drawn to it; dystopian undercurrents, with multiple narrators and points of view... The current senile me thanked the previous, unremembered me for having pre-ordered the story, and I began the book immediately.
As mentioned above, the story is told by multiple points of view with jumping and/or overlapping timelines. You may at times find yourself in the same conversation you've read before, but now from the other character's point of view. Each new section begins with a clear announcement of which character you are about to hear from. In the firsts half of the book, these sections are larger chunks and it takes a while to catch on to the intricate cobweb of shared history that connects all of these people (or perhaps I should instead say sentient beings) together. Then, as you become more comfortable with the format and players, these sections become shorter and faster as the narrative speeds up to it's final conclusion; or at the very least, the conclusion for now.
One of my favorite authors, Michael J. Sullivan, was discussing recently that one of the accepted, identifying qualities of the Science Fiction genre is that it provides us with a forum in which to look at, consider, and discuss moral and ethical ramifications of different choices and ideologies as they are extended into the future. I'd never considered that before, but between his recent Sci-Fi book (Hollow World) and this novel Atopia, I really see what he's talking about. This book gave us a great deal to consider regarding what we call "progress" and "technology" today, asking how far these ideas can be taken before they become something that controls us, rather than something we control.
I believe that for the great majority of people, this is a book that will greatly benefit a second reading; and I am greatly looking forward to mine. Now that I'm more comfortable with the players and the landscape, I believe I'll pick up on a lot of great stuff in the second read that I missed in the first one.
I recommend this book, regardless of what "genres" you typically listen to.
The first Atopia chronicles drew quite a bit of likeness to the Wool series by Hugh Howey, mostly due to its narrative structure and ebook distributio..Show More »n as a series of short stories following separate characters to be stitched together to form a larger novel. Beyond that, subject and writing style, the comparisons mostly draw to a close.
Dystopia Chronicles abandons the previous format for a full fledged novel, with much more fluid transitions between its characters and picks up immediately after the Atopia Chronicles, with Bob and the gang of Atopian castaways left to find Cid's missing body and hopefully stop a conflict between technocractic micro-nations.
The meandering story jumps from an exposition of "What if..." into a labyrinth of pseudo-religion, secret societies and so forth, some of which works and some of which doesn't. Despite the avalanche of ideas and sophisticated tech presented in the first book, it was easy in enough to comprehend. The second feels a little more dissonant, I found myself relistening to a few segments of the book (perhaps I needed a refresher). For example: early in the book Bob has an interaction in a small town that leads to a man brandishing a gun at him. I found myself bouncing back, thinking "How did we get here?". Sometimes a little more pretext or background was needed as Mather seems eager to "just get on with it" more often than not.
The conclusion is underwhelming and felt a bit like a cop-out. I'm sure it'll be divisive: some loving it and some hating it. Overall, I enjoyed the first book more but found myself becoming more distracted with The Dystopia Chronicles. It was enjoyable but lacked the deftness that I felt the first book had.
The ending seems pretty finite, so I'm expecting we won't see any more in the Atopia series. If for some reason Mathew picks it back up, I may skip.