Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Review: Storm Thief by Chris Wooding

Storm ThiefStorm Thief by Chris Wooding
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I feel it necessary to preface my thoughts on STORM THIEF for some reason by saying I'm a fan of Chris Wooding's. I especially love his "Braided Path" trilogy*, which I feel can sit on the shelf right next to Sanderson's "Mistborn" trilogy (and on my shelf, it does) because as far as quality of writing and depth of character it's right there.

That said, however, STORM THIEF feels like it was "phoned in," if you get my meaning. It lacks depth. It lacks passion. The only thing it doesn't lack is Wooding's eloquent descriptions of people, places, and things. Otherwise, it feels like Wooding is sort of going through the motions. It's as if he got this cool idea for this isolated dystopian city, forgotten by the world, powered by something called a Chaos Engine, which unleashes random "probability storms" from a place called the Fulcrum, all of it created by long-dead mysterious ancestors called the Faded. Yeah, see? The premise is cool; yet, I could never feel anything for the characters. They were all, villains and heroes alike, self-absorbed, whiny, annoying bores, especially Rail (who graces the cover). Not to mention, everything is so bloody ambiguous. The whole story is ambiguous. It even ends ambiguously, with the phrase "Anything was possible," which I suppose ties into the ideas of probability, something Wooding promotes throughout the book. Instead, it just comes across to me as altogether noncommittal.

There's just not much else to say about STORM THIEF. I didn't hate it. It wasn't the worst thing I've read. But I was disappointed in Wooding's effort on this one, and I can't recommend it to anybody. However, I can and DO recommend the "Braided Path" trilogy, and even POISON, both of which are far more fun, fascinating, and fervent than STORM THIEF.

Sorry, Chris. Two out of five stars.

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As an afterthought, I want to add that I enjoyed the character of Vago, up until he was conditioned by the Protectorate. He was the only character I really cared about and I would have liked to go through his re-conditioning process with him to understand the depth of his dual nature better. It would have made his wavering allegiance so much more dramatic and powerful, especially during the book's climactic end scenes.

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* If you can get it, the collected "Braided Path" is available in a weighty Omnibus Edition.

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