2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I picked this up because it sounded like an urban fantasy serial killer mystery, which is just my speed. Unfortunately, I found a book with a discombobulated world and plot that builds confusion rather than tension.
If my summary above seems disjointed and confusing that’s because that’s precisely what this book is. Multiple different extremely odd plots are going on that ultimately do have some relation to each other, but the relation takes far too long to establish or understand. The book starts with a flashback to the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and introduces us to Bob/Kanaloa. It then jumps forward to the completely dull Ted and the exploding fortune cookie. It then jumps backward in time again to an entirely different character, who is tied to the circus, eventually. It takes quite a while to find out what his relation is. These three disparate storylines that seems to have no relation to each other continue throughout the book. Bob/Kanaloa’s journey from immortal god to just immortal beach bum would be an interesting book. But his plot keeps getting abandoned for the other two plots, so all tension and interest is lost. Similarly, the evil circus organizer would be interesting, but only if his plot was handled with more detail and finesse. As it is, what he is doing and why he is evil is just confusing, not interesting. Ted’s plot would not be interesting, even on its own with more detail, because Ted is a two-dimensional, boring character.
Beyond the three disjointed, confusing plots, nothing in this story is ever fully fleshed-out. There’s the vague idea that immortals were once on Earth and involved but now have left, but the details of the hows, whys, and how this has affected Bob/Kanaloa is left out. We’re told the organizer of the circus is evil, but we never see his fall from grace. We see him as a poor pioneer then later as an evil circus worker. The interesting part of how he got sucked into this evil is left out. Similarly, two people ultimately become human hosts for gods, but this is basically just announced and moved on from. The intricacies of how this feels for the human and for the god, why it might be effective or not, etc… is all left out. This is a bare-bones, confusing plot with little development, which ruins all possible tension.
Just as the plot is created in broad, sloppy strokes, so are the characters. The closest any come to being three-dimensional is Bob/Kanaloa, which at least made the story readable. But the rest are quickly laid out with broad character traits, and the story moves on. There is, for instance, no depth to Ted’s relationship with his girlfriend. We’re told she’s his girlfriend and he loves her, but we never truly see them together and functioning as a couple. We get no flashbacks to times prior to the supernatural craziness to see them in a non-stressful situation. Ted’s girlfriend is there as a plot device, nothing more.
I understand that this is an advanced copy and there will be another editing pass, etc…, however this is the most errors I have ever seen in an ARC. It was rife with typos, use of the wrong word, and format issues. Most egregious to me is the Britishisms used by American characters, such as “prawns” for “shrimp.” ARCs should have already had at least one editing pass. A reasonable amount of errors could slip through, but not this many. There were errors on approximately every other page. Hopefully the final version received a heavy final edit. Check reviews of the final version to be certain.
This book reads like an extremely rough first draft that badly needs an editor to come through and fix, not just minor typos and grammar, but also plot and characters problems. It could be an interesting story if it was more fleshed-out, with some storylines dropped in favor of a more solid main one, and with at least a couple of three-dimensional characters the reader can really relate to and root for. As it stands, there are certain scenes that are well-written and engaging, but together they do not make an engaging, readable mystery. I normally love books published by Angry Robot, so I found this particularly disappointing.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I love when I find an intricately complex book that manages to blend fantasy, drama, thrills, mystery, and action without becoming overtly confusing. While I wouldn’t classify Hang Wire by Adam Christopher as an easy read, I really enjoyed this book. It has the elements I love in a mystery-styled novel, all while having the excitement of a proper thriller. Add in the fantasy elements, and this one was a winner for me.
Before I move on to what I liked (and ultimately didn’t like) about this book, I want to expand on one of my comments in the introductory paragraph. This is not an easy read. If you go in expecting to be spoon fed every little detail, you’ll get frustrated with this book. If you tend to read books by skimming for the main points, you’re going to be flipping back and re-reading sections.
Take your time with this book. Read carefully. This will make sure you get the most out of this novel.
The TL;DR version: I like this book. It’s a great book for anyone wanting a good, creative, contemporary fantasy novel. This story has a bit of everything, including strong characters balanced with an equally-strong plot.
Hang Wire is the story of one man, Ted Hall, who starts sleepwalking. Unfortunately, his forays at night coincide with the murders of the infamous Hang Wire killer. It is also the story of immortals, of being seeking power, and of the existence of power. It’s a story of the past and the present. It’s a story that spans generations, encompassing far more than just the here and now.
That doesn’t tell you much, does it? This book is hard for me to describe in a short blurb because of its complexity. This is the fault of me as a reviewer — and one of the things I loved about this book.
This novel mixes a lot of sub-genres under a modern umbrella, so expect the unexpected and the fantastical, all at the same time. That’s all I’m going to say about it, because I want you to step into this book without any spoilers.
It’s a fun read.
I think that’s why I liked this book so much. It’s fun. It’s different. It’s quirky. It breaks all of the wrong rules in all of the right ways. Things that are often deal-breakers for me work in this book. Tenses are selected and used as tools in scenes, drawing attention to the subtle shifts in perspectives. Each character — each era of character — has a life all of their own, and it is expressed in the use of shifting tenses as a writing tool. It’s a purposeful, well-done progression rather than an error.
When I first saw it happen in the book, I thought I was going a bit insane. I don’t like shifts of this nature as a general rule. I went through a roller coaster ride’s worth of thoughts on it, because by the time it started happening, I was already invested in the novel.
While it did keep the novel from being a 5* novel for me (I just can’t make myself love one of the tenses — and I reserve 5*s for books I love everything about…), it didn’t change the fact I thought this was a good story, and well worth the read. The characters are interesting, and how the tense shifting is used matches the book. It’s not my particular cup of coffee, but it didn’t tear me out of the book either. The characters, so diverse and unique, made sure I stayed invested all of the way through.
As a side note, this novel defied sub-genre for me. It has a lot of urban fantasy elements, in taking place in cities in various eras, and in modern era, but it’s something more (and possibly less) as well.
If anything, Hang Wire tells the story of several different locations and times, which makes the urban presentation feel a little off to me. Some of the locations are urban, and have a great sense of wonder and history to them — others aren’t. Some of the book takes place in times that are anything but modern, which makes this book really hard to place on the shelf for me.
At least I can say with confidence is that this book is definitely Paranormal, no matter how you look at it. It’s definitely contemporary fantasy, too — but I still feel a little stuck on the urban labeling. (It’s definitely not a romantic kissy kissy paranormal though, be assured of that.)
The book does start off very strong in setting, but it didn’t maintain the sense of setting all the way throughout, at least not in the intensity I desire. I wanted a little more of this element, especially towards the climax of the novel.
This is personal preference, as I’m sure other readers will gobble down the settings used without thinking twice about it.
I’ll just say one thing: I’m really glad I didn’t live in the San Francisco portrayed at the start of the novel. And as a bonus second thing: I absolutely adore his portrayal of Old San Francisco — even though I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to live there.
There are a lot of things I could say about this book, but to do so would be to spoil some of the marvelously creative things within these pages. So, I’ll leave you with this:
Please read carefully so you don’t miss a thing.
This book was acquired as an ARC from publisher