Great North Road full

I endeavored to read the colossal Peter F. Hamilton novel in hardcover after much encouragement from my boyfriend, who had “heard good things,” and happened to be hovering around me while I was in the bookstore. I think that he was really hoping that the largeness of this book would keep him from imminent trips to the bookstore for a while. He was right, it took me a month to finish this monster.

Aside from how slowly I read, this nearly thousand-pager certainly lived up to the term “space opera.” It was like reading a sci-fi/techno, thrilling version of Days Of Our Lives. I tried to describe the story after I’d read it but it’s so intense with backstories, parallel plots, and twists that I sounded like a person recounting a particularly bizarre dream. How do you review a book like that?

First, there’s a procedural cop-drama style story thread to set everything up. A cloned brother belonging to the North family shows up dead under a bridge, sending futuristic chaos rippling through Newcastle. The North family is made up entirely of clones in control of a multi-world energy supply coming from far-flung colonized planets. So when one of them winds up fish food under a bridge with no witnesses and looking like he lost a fight to Wolverine, it’s kind of a huge deal. Enter 10,000 cop characters.

Next, there’s Angela Tramelo. Convicted of killing the last North that wound up dead 20 years ago, she couldn’t possibly have killed another North from jail, even if she really was Wolverine. Angela is a pivotal character – the Victor Kiriakis of Great North Road. Her role in the past, present, and future are intertwined throughout the story, weaving in and out rather deftly. Enter 50,000 new characters, every other chapter.

And finally, there’s everything else; sweeping landscapes, alien swarms, a distinct environmental advocacy theme, and many more plausible, relatable characters and conflicts. It will give you carpal tunnel if you buy the hardcover, mark my words; buy this beast as an e-book. I’m considering duct-taping my copy to a broom handle and using it to squish spiders. Most serious spider-bludgeoner ever!

 

Sara makes the words happen.