1 out of 4 stars
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I’ve tried a few times to write a review for 30th Century: Escape that is at once respectful while still accurately expressing my disappointment with the novel, and I’ve had to restart it more than once because I’ll ramble or feel like I’m being too lenient or too hard. The solution I’ve come up with is to keep this as brief as possible, so here we go.
The book’s main draw and strongest part is what I think of as its “outer shell” story. Jennifer Heros is a woman from the 30th century on a mission to save humanity from a race of cyborg people, so she uses a one-way time machine to send a team back to the 27th century to stop said cyborg race. She, however, decides to travel to the 21st century because she’s exhausted from years of military life and still mourning her late husband. This outer shell is thin though, only a couple chapters in the very beginning and at the end of the novel. The rest of the story can best be summed up as an archaeological expedition mixed with Jennifer exploring a raunchy love life.
Now, where are the problems? Well the biggest is that the book is, to be frank, extremely boring. Conflict is almost non-existent. Jennifer is the classic Mary Sue in that everything she tries she’s amazing at from the get-go whether it be fishing or astrophysics or wooing lovers. Potential moments for conflict, like when Jennifer admits feelings for a mutual friend and her boyfriend becomes upset, are resolved within pages and without any real emotion or drama. The dialogue, stilted and unnatural all around, is almost entirely made up of people making lunch plans to discuss making more plans for university or archaeological digs or further meal plans.
Even moments that could be the most interesting or exciting are ruined by poor writing. There are quite a few explicit sex scenes, and while I applaud Levin for his inclusion of non-heterosexual and non-monogamous relationships, I found myself skipping ahead past the by play-by-play descriptions of the acts. In the end, the author’s biggest problem in the book is in telling the reader everything. I never once felt the emotions that the characters were reportedly experiencing because I couldn’t sense it in any way.
I was actually surprised to read other reviews for the book and see high praise for it. Perhaps the book just isn’t my taste, but either way I can’t recommend it to anyone. I give it 1 out of 4 stars, for the reasons above and because it was such a huge disappointment. The outer shell idea has potential, but unfortunately that outer shell is just as superficial as an egg’s.
30th Century: Escape
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