Monday, March 3, 2014

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

I read a lot of books. If you follow me on Goodreads, you know that I can be harsh in my assessments. I don't give five stars to a lot of books and when I do, it's not always because the book stands on its own merit but because it was better than most other books. I love to read but I've become jaded. I've written other blog posts about book burnout. It's a thing.

This is a lot of genre fiction. Stale, stagnant, and kind of inbred.

Getting to the point of this post though, I finished The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price this weekend. As soon as I read about it, I knew I needed to have it. From the first chapter, I was enchanted. That's the only word I can use to describe my reading experience. It's been years since I'd read anything with such a sense of wonder. This book breaks all the rules of time and plot and I loved every second of it.

The world: Price's world building was like a breath of fresh air on a humid day. The book opens with our world coming to an end, for crying out loud. This isn't a government or societal collapse - this is the literal end of the world. The sky crashes down and kills everyone. Except for nine people, seven of whom we get to know pretty well. The survivors come to their senses in what is later called Altamerica, an America that diverged from the path of time that our America took. Altamerica is alternate history done right. Big and little things have changed. This isn't your standard "what if Hitler won WWII" or "what if Kennedy lived" alternate history. This new America comes from the introduction of time manipulation into the world. Not time travel - time manipulation. The difference is very distinct. Price has built a solid world with realistic consequences to supernatural actions complete with slang and proper societal attitude to events that I don't want to spoil. Suffice it to say, this is world building at its best and most natural. There are no info dumps here.

The characters: We travel through this Altamerica with the Silvers, seven people who were given silver bracelets that kept them safe during the end of the world. We meet Amanda, a nurse, a pragmatist, and a good Christian; her sister Hannah, a mentally fragile actress and attention junkie; Zach, a cartoonist and a cynic; Mia, a vulnerable teen who is devastated by the loss of her entire family; David... another teen... a really weird one; Theo, an alcoholic law school dropout; and Evan. I'm not going to spoil Evan. These characters are so very real. They're flawed and unlikeable at times. But they are all distinct, well thought out personalities. They're easy to love and hate because we know them in real life. I was Mia when I was a kid, I married a version of Zach, I have been and also hated Hannah, I've pitied Evan - all in real life. To know these characters is to both love and hate them. They do some dumb and cruel shit over the course of the book but I can't completely hate any of them (even Evan) because I also understand them.


The plot: I tried so hard to take my time with this book. It's almost 600 pages long so you would think that wouldn't be a problem. But the plot moves at such a breakneck pace at times that it was hard not to read 100 page chunks at a time. This is an adventure story. It's got all the mystery and "oh hell no that did not just happen" moments of Lost* without being a total tease. Don't take anything for granted with Silvers. Price takes risks with his characters and time manipulation makes certain events really, really weird. I will be reading the book a second time in the near future just to make sure I've connected all the dots. But don't misunderstand that - this book takes brainpower to follow properly but not so much that you'll throw it across the room in frustration. There's time manipulation - your brain will at times feel like a wet noodle. Roll with it - that's a good thing.

So, I just followed up a post claiming ain't nobody got time for long, drawn out book reviews with a long, drawn out book review. But. The Flight of the Silvers deserves it. I can't stress enough the freshness, the wonder, the uniqueness of this book or the delight and sometimes terror I felt in reading it (I might be afraid of the end of the world now). I am way excited for future installments. In the meantime, I have to go nurse my major book hangover. It hurts, but I like it.

*Maybe someday I will get through a post without mentioning Lost.

Except that Ben Linus knows I'm full of shit.

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