Top positive review
Take a Walk on the...
on May 24, 2000
This was another great book from an author with a rapidly expanding fan base. The story was excellent, the characters were well developed, and the main character, Charlie, was just as much a unique indivudual as Gould's hero from Jumper, without being a carbon copy of the character. The story itself is fast-moving and it's hard to put the book down once you've begun.
As the synopsis says, the hero, Charlie, discovers a portal in an old barn that leads into an alternate earth; an earth where humans never existed. Actually, it's not proven that there are no humans anywhere -- it doesn't matter to the story and the main character doesn't explore the entire world -- but it appears there aren't.
Charlie hatches a scheme to use this portal for fun and profit, but to do so he needs to enlist the help of some friends. So the group establishes a base on the far side of the portal - the wild side - and gets to work. Though it seems as if the story of setting up a base in a humanless environment would be dull, Gould is able to tell even this with a writing style that compells the reader to continue. The logistical element is used in large part for character development, as we see the dynamic of the group of friends and watch them progress in their lives even as the story progresses.
In his realistic if somewhat cynical fashion, the writer does not allow Charlie's actions to go unnoticed by the government, and they decide to get involved, which creates a building conflict between the heroes and the government which infuses the story with a sense of urgency and suspense.
In his previous book, Jumper, Gould used teleportation as a device to further the plot, never fully explaining the reasons behind it. It seems throughout most of Wildside that he is going to do the same thing with the portal. However, at the end of the book, the portal itself is explained, and the explanation is... unexpected.
I found the book to be enjoyable and fast-paced without being a vapid adventure tale. There is plenty to think about in the story, and it leaves you with the satisfying feeling you can only get from a good story told well.