27 January 2013

Review: Great North Road

Great North Road
Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a good reminder that I really need to get back into reading more non-dystopian science fiction.

Peter F. Hamilton is responsible for what may be my favorite science fiction books, Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained. Two great novels about a faraway star and an evil alien existence, it was completely engrossing. I've been meaning to read more of his stuff ever since, and I've just put it off. Finally, Great North Road comes out, and I make sure I scoop it up. I'm glad I did.

At its root, it's a futuristic murder mystery. A family of clones has an almost oligarchic hold on Earth, and one of the clones has been brutally murdered in a way that's similar to a previous set of murders involving that family twenty years earlier. The hitch? The person who was convicted of those murders is still in jail.

Beyond this mystery that needs to be solved is the fact that the family of clones has some splits within themselves, making solving the crime difficult. There's a planet around Sirius that is a major supplier of the oil Earth now uses, and some investigation needs to occur there as well. Needless to say, there are a lot of threads to deal with, a lot of politics to navigate, and there's a murderer on the loose that has done an excellent job of covering their tracks.

The book is fairly brilliant overall. The world, as crafted, feels completely realistic, the technology interesting and unique-feeling while being fairly standard tropes (most notably the use of stargates to traverse wide lengths instantaneously), and, as someone who typically dislikes murder mysteries, a great take on the genre.

If I have any complaints, it may be the somewhat obvious political tones of some of the end scenes, which felt somewhat unnecessary to justify the point of why things happened the way they did. For most readers, I doubt it would even register, but it felt a little too on the nose for me. With that said, it's hardly something that takes away from the book itself, which, at nearly 950 pages, felt like it could have kept going for some time and I would have been just as happy. Highly, highly recommended.

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