25 October 2013

Review: The Incrementalists

The Incrementalists
The Incrementalists by Steven Brust

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There's something to be said about high concept science fiction and fantasy. I love books with big ideas, and a lot of them work while a lot of them do not. The Incrementalists is not really positioned as a Big Idea book, but in a lot of ways it's exactly what it is. While big Big Idea is cool, the result ends up a little too formulaic for what I was looking for.

The book is about a group of people who have figured out a way to manipulate the memories of the world in small ways, incrementally. One of their members effectively goes off the deep end a bit, and it's up to the rest of the group to figure things out and, in a sense, save themselves in the process.

The idea and concept behind the group of people is great. I like the idea of a small cadre of people being able to manipulate memories and change things around, I thought the characters themselves, when they were distinguishable, were fun. The book is incredibly self-contained, however, with some strange choices throughout. The shifting of memories and personalities throughout is meant to be disorienting, I think, and it succeeds, but not in a good way but rather a frustrating one. The most troublesome part for me, though, is that this grand idea is effectively boiled down to a speculative murder mystery as opposed to something interesting and significant within the world itself.

Ultimately, not a bad read, just underwhelming. It was a significantly fast read for me on a whole, and it's worth checking out if the idea grabs you. I was just hoping for more.

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