A new time-traveling fantasy from National Book Award winner Lisa Goldstein.
Ann Decker fixes computers for a living, and in the evenings she passes the time sharpening her hacking skills. It's not a very interesting life, but she gets by - until one day she's contacted with a job offer for a company called Transformations Incorporated. None of her coworkers has ever heard of it before, and when Ann is finally told what the company does, she can hardly believe it: TI has invented technology to travel in time.
Soon Ann is visiting a matriarchy in ancient Crete and then a woman mathematician at the Library of Alexandria. But Transformations Incorporated remains shrouded in mystery, and when Ann finally catches her breath, there are too many troubling questions still unanswered. Who are Transformations Incorporated, and what will they use this technology to gain? What ill effects might going back in time have on the present day? Is it really as harmless as TI says?
When a coworker turns up dead, Ann's superiors warn her about a covert group called Core who are out to sabotage the company. Something just isn't right, but before she has time to investigate, Ann is sent to a castle in the south of France, nearly a thousand years in the past. As the armies of the Crusade arrive to lay siege and intrigue grows among the viscount's family, Ann will discover the startling truth - not just about the company that sent her there but also about her own past.
Ann Decker is a young woman with no family, no friends, and no real prospects. An orphan raised in foster care, she didn't make it to college, but she's very good with computers, and has a job in a computer repair shop. She avoids attention as much as possible.
So she's not happy when she notices a woman following her, and is even less pleased when the woman comes into the shop and asks for her by name.
Ann is about to be recruited into Transformations Inc., a company using time travel to attempt to change history to ensure that resources, and human civilization, last beyond the 2370s. Or at least, that's what they say.
The time travel is real. After her training, Ann's first assignment is in ancient Crete.
And it's in Crete that she encounters her first reasons to question the real intentions of the company.
Ann is a character with some real flaws and weaknesses. Her life hasn't disposed her to either trust others, or concern herself with other people when it conflicts with her own interests, and Transformations is the best job she's ever had. She really doesn't want to rock the boat.
But Gregory, a very slightly more experienced Transformations agent whom she's become friendly with, dies immediately on their arrival in Crete, for no apparent reason. The team's "facilitator," or leader, Emerald Walker, is dismissive, abrasive, and, Ann soon concludes, not exceptionally competent or intelligent. An older, more experienced agent in place in Crete is also suspicious about Gregory's death, and hints to her about a secret organization inside Transformations, called Kore--possibly named for the Cretan version of the goddess Persephone.
When Ann starts to see a pattern to the changes the company makes in the past, and coresspondingly notices her own early 21st century time and place getting worse--more restrictive, more repressive, more shortages, and even more rudeness--she starts to wonder if she can keep supporting the company's program. Yet if she decides she can't, what can she do? How can she fight the company?
The character development for Ann and her friends and allies, and even some of her adversaries, is very good, but Walker seemed a bit too unintelligent to be believed, even with the constraints the company is apparently facing. The plot moves, and kept me guessing, and the past cultures visited were portrayed with understanding and subtlety.
Overall, a very good read, or listen, even if it may not make my Hugo nominations list.
I received a free copy of the audiobook from Audible in exchange for an honest review.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Didactic, fairly pointless time travel yarn which posits that "the patriarchy" is mostly caused by a future corporation monkeying with the past in a failed attempt to stave off environmental catastrophe. There may be a decent story idea in that premise, but this isn't it. The author simply ignores all the usual, well-known paradoxes that would result from time travel in a linear single universe. That approach works if you have an interesting story backing it up, but that isn't the case here. Very little of interest happens in any of the time settings.
The narration is fine during descriptive passages, but the dialog is really pretty dire. No range of characters, emotion, or accents. That would be fine- if a narrator doesn't act and just reads the text neutrally, that's OK. Instead she comes off sounding like a corny amateur actor, pushing her voice down in the register when playing men, sounding camp evil for all the antagonists, and giving the main character a bored slacker voice. Really odd and distracting.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Weighing Shadows?
The writing, the writing, the writing the lace filigree that is passed off as story/plot. The characters barely developed. The plot arc badly designed and poorly executed. The writing is hackneyed and trite.
What was most disappointing about Lisa Goldstein’s story?
The lack of effective storytelling poor writing skills
Would you be willing to try another one of Natasha Soudek’s performances?
Not on your life
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Some ideas were interesting but poorly utilized.
Any additional comments?
The poor writing and loosely held together story are exacerbated by the narrator's lack of tone, timing, pace, pretty much everything. I feel bad complaining as I realize the tremendous amount of work involved but...don't waste money or time. The team would be better off dashing out fast read bodice rippers or something than aiming so high and missing so foully.
Time travel stories are among my very favorites, and at first this one seemed to have promise. But it all falls apart with the first foray into the past. It’s not believable at all, and the performance is overblown with a ‘smarmy’ feel to it. I am shutting it off at chapter 8, I just can’t take any more.
I respect the hard work that goes into both writing and reading as audio, and I hat to have to be so harsh… but it’s awful.