In an attempt to discover more about the sci-fi genre, I am currently working my way through Peter F. Hamilton’s space opera – Great North Road. And I’ve actually finished it!
It’s taken a while, but I am finally back and I have finally finished Great North Road. Actually, I finished it a couple of weeks ago but it was almost like my brain needed some time to recover before I could write anything about it. In the end, I worked on some other projects and have only just been able to come back to this.
So in terms of plot, Sid not only got to move into his shiny new house, he also got to wrap up his murder case. After struggling for approximately 900 pages to even work out who his victim is, the case is then wrapped up pretty quickly and succinctly. Admittedly, it doesn’t have a traditional culprit, but it would spoil it if I told you who did it and how. All I’ll say is that it is very fitting in terms of the rest of the plot and the themes in the book. In some ways it was also one of the most well put together mysteries I have read in a while. Looking back, the reader is given all the information they need to work it out themselves, which I personally always consider to be a plus.
The rest of the plot really started to pick up to. On St. Libra, there were regular monster attacks and murders as well as sabotage and the trials and tribulations of any good fictional expedition – lack of food, disturbance in the ranks and a perilous journey to safety. Throughout all of this on both St. Libra and Earth there is also the general clone identify confusion which impersonations and misunderstandings to keep you on your toes. In the end, despite having about 300 pages left to read, I just decided I wasn’t going to be doing anything else with my evening – I had to keep going and try and finish the book!
I will say though that there were a couple of points in the story that weren’t right for me. One of them was Saul the surfer. More is added to his back story towards the end and it does tie him into the main plot well but it just feels like the author needed an extra character for one small part early on and then had to make a way for him to fit in with the rest of the story. He’s nice and likeable but I didn’t really think that he added that much.
Then there was the ending itself, or to be more specific, the last chapter. Without giving too much away, the ending takes place in the future and for me left things on quite a sad note (which after reading about all the various attacks and murders wasn’t the best feeling). I just didn’t think that was necessary. I think that if I reread it, I would stop after the second to last chapter where everything is tied up nicely and pretty much everyone is happy.
All in all, I really enjoyed Great North Road and would advise anyone that if they ever felt like giving up on it, don’t! Please stick with it – even if you have to take a break for a while, come back to it because it is really worth it. It can be dense sometimes and it might feel like the author is droning on from time to time but there actually does appear to be a reason for this. Great North Road goes into a lot of detail and it never just dumps the information that it feels you need to know on you. If there is something important about a character’s past (take Angela for example) then rather than just telling you, there will be about 10 pages dedicated to taking you back to that period of her life and making you live it. It is very effective and makes you feel like you really know these characters. They seem so much more real and well rounded. Each one of them has been shaped by the experiences of their past and you get to live those experiences with them.
After reading Great North Road, I think that I will definitely be reading more science fiction in the future. It’s nice to know that the genre isn’t locked to me as for a long time I felt it was.
To finish off, I’m going to give Great North Road 4/5 rockets.
Also, this is the first time in a while that I have written anything so I’m a bit rusty so, even more so than usual, feedback is welcome! 🙂