On a recent Once and Future Podcast episode, Rachel Caine said something about new writers today needing patience -- not rushing to publish, just because you can thanks to technology, to take the time to get the book right. Man, I wish Bachman had done that. I think there's a perfectly fine and probably entertaining novel here -- but this needed a few more drafts/revisions, and an editor to come alongside him and give him a hand. Sadly, we have this mess instead.
If you told me that the copy I downloaded was missing several chapters -- key chapters, I should note -- or that this was a sequel to something that I really should've read first, I would absolutely believe that. But given no other titles listed anywhere for Bachman and that the chapters are numbered, I can't even use that to rationalize the problems.
If I look at the book description, I get a much better idea of what happened in the book that I did from the book itself. Bad sign. I think Bachman was trying to go for mysterious, enigmatic, something to get the readers to dig in to the story. Instead he gave us something confusing, something that obfuscates more than intrigues. I'm not saying the author has to hold my hand and point out everything about the story that I need to understand -- but if I have to assume as much as he made me, or just shrug and say, I'm sure that made sense in his head that often, the author failed.
There's some sort of steam-punk/future tech going on in the setting, but . . . nothing comes from it. It was like he started writing some sort of alt-history or steampunk novel and dropped it, without deleting references to hovercars or two types of showers (one water and the other . . . sonic or something, I don't recall).
At some point we trade in one set of characters for another -- which was fine, but left us with no sense of resolution, or anything for those we left. Aside from 1 character being thought of occasionally, nothing more is said or done with them. I don't think that was handled well at all.
That goes for the whole book, really. It's not going to do anyone any good -- least of all me -- to enumerate all the problems I had with this book. There was some decent writing, a sense of style that should appeal to many, but they were wasted in a horribly plotted and executed novel. Spare yourselves.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this from the author in exchange for this post. I think it's pretty clear that the act didn't persuade me in any way. I still do appreciate the opportunity.