Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: Existence

Existence Existence by David Brin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked a lot of the science fiction in this book, but it felt much too abstract for me. In fact, it took me longer than usual to even get 'interested' in the story. Usually, with a new book, I'll dive right in and become engrossed with the characters within the first few chapters. With Existence, I don't think it was until around chapter 25 that I decided I would stick it out until the end. Up to that point, I was considering not reading the entire thing.

Part of the difficulty might be that I was listening to the audio format of this book. Based on what I heard, there are sections that are quoted chapters from some other book like an encyclopedia of sorts. It took a few chapters for me to figure this out and get used to the different perspectives. It also didn't help that these excerpts were often of an erudite nature and far too abstract to hold my attention. I kept yearning for the story to get back to the action.

Another problem was that there were too many characters introduced too quickly before I could really settle in with a particular point of view. And then the story spanned a length of time that necessitated old characters dying and thus the introduction of more new characters. In the end, there were a few narratives that I enjoyed, but nothing that really stood out.

I think overall the subject matter of this book is just too philosophical for my personal taste. I prefer to watch individuals or small groups go through a story arc, rather than humanity as a whole. Yet all this being said, it was a well written book and an interesting setting.

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