Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Review: No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones.
Eddie is pretty certain nowhere could be more small-town, more boring, and more inconsequential than his home town of the Wellcome Valley. Unfortunately, he is about to be proved spectacularly wrong.
Eddie's problems start when he sees his teacher getting shot (possibly with an elastic band) and then promptly vanish into thin air. Or maybe they start just a little bit before then, with the arrival of Scarlett, a new girl in town who seems rather too confident and mysterious for your average schoolgirl. She attracts trouble (and Eddie) like a magnet, and she's apparently only interested in two very strange things - protecting the local crackpot scientist, Dr Wolf, and telling Eddie absolutely nothing about what on earth is going on. Because things quickly go from weird to worse for Eddie, and he's about to find himself in the middle of a dangerous battle for the fate of not just himself, Scarlett and the town - but Time itself.
The first few chapters of this book introduce us to the main players, and begin to introduce us to the slightly odd world in which it's set. Much of this world feels familiar, the characters' daily lives include the same activities as ours, yet there's an unshakeable feeling that there's something not quite right. The further you get into the book the more this feeling of not-rightness grows - I found I had more and more questions, virtually by the chapter.
When the pieces slowly started to fall into place I found myself wanting to read faster and faster, eager for the next bit to slot into the plot. It's a completely gripping read though a confusing one - it's full of time travel and time loops. These are explained as well as any such things can be but I still found I needed to read some passages a could of times to take on board what was going on.
Eddie, our main character, copes very well with the constantly changing world he's living in. I'm not sure I could have been as accepting in his place! I didn't feel be the end of the book that I'd completely got to know him, but I think it would be hard to achieve that in a book with such a twisty plot line. That is in fact my only minor quibble with the book - the high concept of the plot left me feeling slightly detached from the characters.
The book poses some really interesting questions about morality - about science and about whether we should pursue advancement simply because we can. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has a constant presence in this book and encourages the reader (like the characters) to consider that story in these terms. This book also has some really interesting things to say about stories, and about whether any story is set in stone once its final form is produced. All of these things would provide really excellent talking points - I'd love to use this book with a group of young readers, I think the discussions it would provoke would be fascinating.
This is a highly enjoyable, thought provoking read. I will certainly be recommending it.