Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Fire: A Novel by Katherine Neville

I was really excited to receive this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Program. I had thought, prior to reading the blurb, that the book would be a continuation of The Eight with the focus on those familiar characters. Honestly, I'm glad it's not - I couldn't see how a whole book could come out of it. However, I was disappointed with the small role Alexander Solarin played in the story. He was my favorite character (next to Mireille) from The Eight. However, the story quickly picked up and I was able to put that small prejudice behind me.

I found the first chapter that takes place in the past incredibly difficult to read. The names and places that are difficult to pronounce - even in my head - made things very disjointed for me. That too, quickly passed, though. Katherine Neville was able to tie these two books together in a way that really worked for me. The way things fell to the descendants of the previous story was a nice way to keep things familiar to old readers. It took a while for me to warm up to Xie and the other new characters. I had a hard time liking Key. She seemed to be entirely too convenient - her connections, her knowledge. There were, of course, things in the plot that were obvious from very near the beginning. I've found that most sequels follow a pattern similar to their predecessor, so it wasn't exactly surprising when certain things happened.

The story was lively and there really weren't any dull moments. I was a little disappointed that the locales were not as exotic and varied as in The Eight, though the story itself more than made up for it. There were some things that I simply couldn't "get" - I'm no chess guru, nor do I have any esoteric or deep philosophical knowledge. I may not have a head for puzzles, but I do know a good book when I read one. I would very heartily recommend this book (and The Eight) to others.

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