February 13th, 2009

book 1

Carbon Copy: Alpha Man by Gary Turcotte

Publisher: Outskirts, 2008
Genre: Science Fiction
Sub-genre: Alien encounter

Read the full, spoiler-free review here.

First things first. There are some compelling ideas in Carbon Copy, but it takes some wading to get to them. I think my biggest issue with the book is that in its excitement to share all its concepts, it missed out on exploring most of them fully. A number of ideas were sort of brought up and then glossed over, and in general the passages with secret agent action were written with more enthusiasm than the science fiction bits. I like spy thrillers, but the heart of the book is with the aliens and the origin of man and life on Earth, so the glossing over made things feel a little unbalanced.

Turcotte seems very fond of short sentences. In moments of drama, this can be a really effective tool, heightening the suspense, but when it's used throughout the entire book, it starts to feel like a reader about Dick, Jane, and Spot. A few conjunctions would have turned the halting prose into something far more readable and sophisticated.

The other issue I had was with the long blocks of exposition. Since Derek had the alien information shoved into his head and others hadn't, he spent a lot of time explaining things, and while these ideas were kind of neat in their own right, it quickly grew tiresome to be told everything in big chunks. Had the mysteries of the aliens and their knowledge about the genesis of the human race been unfolded slowly, it could have been something I raced through, but the execution here ultimately just failed for me. Which is sad, really, because presented in another manner, some of the ideas are thought-provoking ones that might have stuck with me.