Okay, I’m a sucker for free books and off-the-main-rack books. Like strange movies (“Robert Movies”, as a friend calls them), you’ll get some really unique stuff, not always good but at least different.
Eidolon: The Thousand Year Ghost is a young adult novel (such novels have become more numerous as adults grow less likely to read and more like Morlocks). Usually that doesn’t pose too much a problem – everyone (but me) loved Harry Potter. And China Mielville (damn him for his abilities!) can turn out a good kiddy novel when it suits. Anyway, we start this story with a truly horrifying glimpse of an unstated apocalypse taking place from the POV of a hapless cleaning lady. Then the story drops to low story-telling gear and starts grinding forward.
I enjoy good after stories. There now is a community suspiciously in a place like Portland, sitting atop what seems to be silt-packed ruins, with a religious fear of the past and a boy (Hickory) who wants to know more. Now, Hickory is a boy with a difference, that being he’s the only one without a strange echoes-of-the-past name (which I loved – Abacus, Anime, Dodge, Monitor, Tread, Chrome, they are all there. I did the same thing with corporate names in one of my own unpublished novels). Hickory finds something quickly identified as a wrist watch, and then meets the ghost of the cleaning lady from the paragraph above). With his own dad digging up illegal goods in his clay pit, there is the setup for a great breaking-the-rules-with-good-intentions fight with the council.
Except it never happens. Suddenly technology is thrust on the community when Hickory’s dad unveils his own little hobby, his airship (built from information from the past). Now, this was where I really had a problem with the book. I’ve flown airships (I’ve got two hours of rating time in one). And you can’t scramble airships, especially not one relying on hot air for lift. Further, you can’t fly one in the teeth of the thunderstorm, not if you don’t want your body found a thousand miles away. But there is a girl down a well, the airship is forced into dynamic service (on it’s maiden flight, yet!), and the council caves about their standing religious-stiff order against technology.
While I’m not a teacher, I’ll also admit that it seemed odd that frontier kids (with limited daylight to do their farm chores) seemed to spend an awful lot of time in class doing modern social-studies and entry-level philosophy. This community must be very stable if it can afford to teach all its children reading and math, when there is nothing to read and little to count. Just sayin.
Outside of that, the book just trundled along. Boy feels love bud for the girl, boy talks with ghost, boy has father problems, boy has bully problems. Really, it captures the teen perspective well that the outside world doesn’t exist. And that’s okay, but it makes for a limited story. I’d have loved to find out just how big this new city was, where it gets its materials, who it trades with, all that. But it’s a young adult story and heavily focuses on the problems of youth.
I hit the back cover of this book quite unexpectedly (in a Kindle, it’s not like I’m holding actual pages in my right hand). We don’t really end at a cliffhanger, but it is certainly the entry port for a second book (one that I see is soon to be released).
So, yes, I enjoyed it, but I think it could have been a tighter and broader. But I got it for free, so I can’t complain.
Look for it on Amazon.
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