Monday, August 24, 2015

The Kingdom of Ohio

Back to my 2015 Challenge reads.  I was totally sucked into this one by the cover.  But, I've been chugging away at it for the last few weeks, getting distracted by other books and then coming back to it.  That's usually a bad sign, indicating that my attention is not being held.  Which I think is a fair statement.  The narrator is not a natural storyteller, lost in the past as he is, and distances the reader from the action of the book.  

One of this book's biggest problems (related to the above) is that it spends far too much time telling us how crazy and incomprehensible and indecipherable the past events that the book is based on are.  So, when you find out what actually happened, you're left feeling a little underwhelmed.  I mean, the events are improbable, but considering I just read a book with not just time travel, but Egyptian cults, Gypsy doctors, insane clowns, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge being a bad ass, they're really not that out there.

The other problem is that the relationship that develops between Peter and Cheri-Anne is hard to believe.  They know each other for about a week, and have so little in common, and yet he pines for her the rest of his lifer?  It can happen, but the book doesn't really sell it.  And, this book is badly titled. There IS a Kingdom of Ohio, but it's not center stage.  Not much of it takes place in the Kingdom.  It puts you on the wrong footing right away.  Similar to how the stuff from the Roanoke Colony is introduced so late in the book, it's a distraction.

But I'm not being fair.  There are wonderful moments: meditations on memory and the relationship between past and future.  Detailed looks into how traveling through time can affect a person's psyche.  Interesting takes on early America and its technologies.  I want to say that this is a realistic look at time travel/world hopping, but that's ridiculous, isn't it?  A realistic look at unreal things, lol.  But if those things were possible, I bet this is how people would react.  Not instantly figuring out the circumstances and making brilliant and death defying moves, like characters in a blockbuster.  They probably would be hurt and confused and longing to get back to where they belong.

What really interests me, though, is that the author said he was influenced by Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, a book that is also on my list to read this year.  I'm wondering how this one will compare!    

Final call:

The good stuff averages out the bad stuff, so let's just leave it at three stars.      

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