Rise, the Quantamancer by A.R. McNevin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
An interesting if confusing fantasy
This is a difficult book to review. The initial publisher’s blurb was very interesting; however, the book struggled to deliver on that promise in several areas. Perhaps the most significant critique would the the overwhelming tendency to describe verse show that made it story something akin to reading an encyclopedia. There were long sections of data dumps that, while vaguely interesting, were also boring. The undifferentiated voices in the narration didn’t help with that as each chapter seemed to bleed into each other. There were for PoV hijinx as well where for some reason the storyline following the witch Danika was told by her bard companion where Edgar told his own story and Thaddeus had more of an anonymous narrator. Not a big deal … but when you title your chapters on the character PoV and then not tell it from their perspective … I found it to be a tad disorientating. Then there is the execution. The basic idea is that science stopped working, but the way that was actually done was extremely inconsistent and also confusing. It was not until the end that it started to makes sense and frankly my wife had already given up on the book by then. I did manage to stick it out until the end though and I found that the story does get better as it evolves.
The basic plot revolves around three (3) characters as they try to figure out their “post-science” world. Edgar is the science guy and has to totally reinvent himself after everything he knows no longer governs how the world works. For the most part, he drifts around the Washington DC area until he eventually aligns with the anti-magic (formerly known as science) faction and slowly corrects and adds nuance to the idea that science has failed. Along the way, we see a third faction that also seems to be opposed to the new world order … religion … and as expected, it was not portrayed in the best light. Danika is an earth witch in the Connecticut/NYC area and is basically on a quest (accompanied by her companion bard/narrator Jaskier wannabe) to make sure the evils of science don’t come back (as can be imagined, there is a lot of overly simplified pontificating by both sides). Thaddeus is the last character and arguable the most interesting … since he is over 1000 years old and a survivor from the original fall of magic to modernity. For this book, he adds a few interesting side quests but no real help in advances the plot … of which there is a minor resolution at the end as well as a huge epilogue and setup for the sequel. Over all it was a super light, if mildly entertaining, story that struggles to rise above the standard fantasy tropes.
I was given this free advance review/listener copy (ARC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.