Tuesday, 15 November 2016

"14" by Peter Clines

Peter Clines
Published 2012 by Permuted Press

After reading “The Fold” (review earlier in the root cellar of this blog), I became quite a fan of Peter Clines’ writing.  Peppy, fun, engaging.  I like his style.  I guess I’m unintentionally working backwards in his playlist, since “14” is one of his earlier books.

I enjoyed “14” for the first…70% (give or take) of the book.  Oddball characters in a quirky apartment building that only gets more quirky as the book progresses.  There’s a mysterious puzzle that keeps unfolding and unfolding, sweeping most of the tenants in the building in an effort to solve it.  As personalities mesh and teamwork bonds form, said characters become increasingly fun to read.

As with his other books, Clines continues to push the pop culture references right to the edge of tolerance.  (many modern writers go sailing right over that edge and into the digital or literal trash can)  Clines keeps the pop drivel corralled by only having the quotes and allusions come out of the mouths of characters that would be legitimately in that frame of mind.  And he has other major characters who need these references explained, which helps any reader keep moving along with the story.

I’m reading and having fun as each aspect of the mysterious building is peeled back.  But then I hit that 70% mark (give or take).  There is no way to proceed further in this review without inserting a…

•=•=•=•=•=•=•=•=•= SPOILER SPACE •=•=•=•=•=•=•=•=•=

…where was I?  “14” suddenly became “The Fold”.  Or, if I had read these in publishing order, “The Fold” would have become “14”.  I’m not saying the two books are copies of each other, but rather like two different road trips to the same city-destination.

I reeled back when the Heroes of “14” ran afoul of the exact same neo-Lovecraftian dimension with the same bug warriors and the same flying behemoth creatures.  It was with great effort I returned to reading.  The events fired along with vim and vigour, but I was no longer as engaged.  I dragged along a big load of “been there, done that.”  

Both “14” and “The Fold” are built on the same plot foundation.  A group of eccentric characters try to comprehend a machine that is not, as it turns out, possible for current human minds to comprehend.  A magic (nearly literally) machine that hurls the heroes into the (literally) same dimension of danger.

Did I enjoy “14”?  Yes, but not as much as I could have.  Will I read another Clines book?  That depends.  He’s already tricked me into reading the same book twice, sort of.  I don’t know if I want to read the “magical machine > alpha predator” story a third time.  

I’ve read authors who have churned out similar tales.  I think this instance upsets me because Clines went so specifically to his favourite dimension of danger again.  And pulled his totally unexplained “Men in Black” out of his ass, again.  There’s “similar” and then there’s a feeling of “copy & paste”.

In summation, I can heartily recommend “14” or “the Fold”, but not really both.