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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Killing Time by Caleb Carr



Considering the reputation of this author, I was quite disappointed

In order to start with positive thoughts - What does Carr do right with this novel?

1. His vision of the future, published in the year 2000 about the year 2023, does correctly predict that Afghanistan would be a hotspot for the American military due to a fanatical, independently wealthy, international Muslim terrorist.

2. He predicted that the U.S. would become involved with Sadaam Hussein in Iraq over WMDs. (Ironically, in this book, Sadaam tries to nuke France in 2006)

3. Carr does an interesting thing by writing a sci-fi book that sounds Victorian.

4. His beginning themes of capitalism gone amuck are interesting, despite their misguided nature.

What does he do wrong?

1. There is little or no character development. Even our main character is minimally fleshed out. He joins a group of anti-information age terrorists with little or no qualms, despite the fact that he knows nothing about them, he's confused by their cause. We learn little about these people except that they know everything about him - and they don't share any of their information with the reader.

2. This team of people is like the supersmart Justice League - they all have wonderful skills and abilities that complement one another - but we know precious little about them or their motivations. Plus, the only skill exhibited by one of these 'super friends' just seems to be that he can cook gourmet meals in a hurry.

3. They have a super airplane/submarine that can make itself invisible. It is nearly untouchable and is practically unbeatable. Also, it gets real boring after a while. There's no challenge that they cannot overcome since they always have their super ship.

4. This book would have been much, much, much more interesting if Carr would have expanded on each of these 'superfriends' and explained their motivations. Carr could have let us see this world through all of their eyes and made it more interesting than the straight-ahead approach he often uses. Carr only approaches this with two characters - what about the rest?

So, if I were giving it a grade, I'd give it a solid 'D' - weak character development and presence of the 'super ship' are offset by initial interesting themes and visions of the future. If Carr were a student in my class, I'd send him back to do a lot of revising.

I rate this book 2 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Killing Time.

Reviewed on June 29, 2005.

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