My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Originally published in October of 2013
I don’t know what to make of this book. First of all I didn’t realize it was the first in series, I thought it was a standalone novel. So after having the book putter along smoothly like a car on the highway, the ending was the equivalent of having the engine stall out and die on you for no apparent reason. Progress just…stopped. I hate surprises like that. And there’s nothing anywhere on the covers or review to lead you to believe it’s the first book of a series. So I ended the book looking for closure, and feeling vaguely cheated. I spent most of the book enjoying myself, but vaguely wondering what it was all for, what the plan was, how it was all going to be resolved…which is the main question the authors raise in this book anyhow. And then I finally get to the end and wind up not really learning anything, and feeling cheated out of the answers I was hoping to find. If this book isn’t a long metaphor for life I don’t know what it is. Lots of physics, anthropology, paleontology and archaeology for the science buffs out there. For die-hard Terry Pratchett fans, this book is nothing like the majority of his other work. The closest I can think of is The Dark Side of the Sun, or possibly Strata. I tend to forget how much having authors team up to write novels changes what they would put out on their own. I haven’t read anything by Stephen Baxter to be able to compare, although judging from this book he’s a pretty good author as well. I think I’ll read the next one in the series, but I might pout about it.
Updated to add: I later read A Blink of the Screen, Terry Pratchett’s collection of short stories. It includes the tale which eventually became The Long Earth, and I loved it so much I now want to re-read The Long Earth, and finish the series.