Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds Book Review: Mystery in Space

I listened to The Prefect in audio book form. I am an audio book fan, if you don’t have an audible account, I would highly recommend it (www.audible.com).  It’s an older book, released in 2007.  The book was recommended by a friend at work who is an Alastair Reynolds and Revelation Space series fan. It is an entertaining book, and I may give more of the series a chance. Though, it will be at the end of a very long list of books I want to listen to or read. I like science fiction and mystery books, probably my two favorite genres. I was intrigued by the premise of a mystery set in space. The book starts off slowly. I almost lost interest and gave up on it. I know my friend at work would ask me about what I thought, so I wanted to give it a fair chance. I’m glad I did, because the second half of the book picks up steam, and makes for a fast paced finish.
I may have had issues with the first part of the book do to the audio version. The narrator did not pause before jumping to other characters points of view. It was really hard to follow what character I was listening to. He would start on a part, and before I knew it we were on to another character. I lost track more than a few times and had to rewind to see who we were following at the time. Once I figured out the characters, it was easier to follow. There are a number of characters to follow so it took a little time. I would highly suggest, if you listen, to be aware of the quick changes in points of view. I don’t really understanding not pausing more for the listeners. Give us a heads up that something is about to change. It doesn’t have to be a long pause, two seconds makes all the difference. The other hard part to follow during the first part of the novel is all the tech of the universe we are dropped into. This may be because it was my first novel in this universe. This was the last book written for the universe, but set first in the timeline, which is why I started with it. Maybe if I had read the other novels the tech would make more sense to me. I liked the tech and the universe once I got used to it. It took me a while to realize the glitter band, the place in the universe our story takes place, is in another solar system away from our sun.  There is something to be said about dropping the reader into the world without giving any explanation to how things work, or what is going on. I think it can give a sense of emersion. I am not sure it works as well for the audio version. If I was going to read another in the series, I would read instead of listen.
The overall story is very well done. I did not figure out all the pieces of the puzzle until very close to the end. I liked who they had a main antagonist, Aurora, in the book. They were revealed early, but you did not know what they had planned. I really enjoyed the slow build of how the plan Aurora set in motion unfolded. I was not sure how our heroes were going to save the day. Hard choices had to be made, and it was not a clean victory. It was enjoyable to see how all the pieces of the novel fit together. We are dropped into the middle of the story and the main problems. These initial problems do not seem to be connected, but fit nicely into the overall story at the end of the novel. The only story which could have been curtailed was that of Thalia. She has a critical part to play in the overall story, but after her part is done her side story does not add much. Her story could have been cut shorter to pick up the pace of the book. I liked her as a character, but her development was not necessary. For those who have read the books I know her initial part is critical. It is her story after she succeeds in a task that I took issue with.
There was one other storyline I did not much understand. The story of the supreme prefect Aumonier did not add much to the overall story either. She had a very interesting backstory, and very exciting rescue scenario. Again not sure if it added to the overall story. I feel like I am focusing more of the negatives of the book. There are many positives of the book as well. I really enjoyed all the characters, even the antagonists. The tech and universe are really intriguing. I loved the whiphounds the prefects used as weapons. They are attention-grabbing, and would be excited to see how they evolve in the other books. The society they live in is unique. The people live in a very loose confederacy. Each habitat in the glitter band gets to set up their own type of government, even tyrannies. The people can leave and migrate if they want. There is an overall government, but it is very loose and is not strong central government. Panoply, where the prefects work, enforces the laws of the weak central government. They basically make sure the voting machines are not manipulated.
The Prefect was a good read. I enjoyed the mystery, intrigue, environment, and characters of the novel. Reynolds created a good universe, a person can get lost in. I will eventually give the next books in the series a try, but they are not ones I have to go out and read immediately to find out what is happening.  Maybe I should since the other three books are the main part of the story. It probably has more to do with I want to read the books, instead of listen to them. I will get to them, and I am sure I will enjoy them when I do.

My Rating: Worth Reading (May want to pass on this audio version)

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