You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Traveler

I listened to the audio book of The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks. It is a science fiction novel using the concept of people who can travel to different worlds with their spirits while their bodies remain in a trance state. The Travelers are protected by a group of people called Harlequins, who defend them against a powerful group they refer to as the Tabula, though they call themselves the Brethren. The Brethren are a secret organization in positions of power in the world, who covet more power, and use the powers of surveillance of what Twelve Hawks calls the "vast machine" to maintain control. They see the Travelers and the Harlequins as a threat to their power, or as they describe it, the stability of society.

Maya is the daughter of a Harlequin who discovers her father's body soon after reuniting with him in Prague. She travels to the Los Angeles under a fake identity and, using her contacts with other Harlequins, tries to save two brothers who may be the last surviving Travelers. Gabriel and Michael Corrigan have been living off the grid for years, ever since their home was attacked and their father was presumably killed. But when Michael uses his real name to further a business venture, the Brethren finds them and captures him while Gabriel barely escapes. Maya is betrayed by a former Harlequin but manages to escape and find Gabriel. With the help of a member, Vicky, and former member, Hollis, of a church that reveres a nineteenth century traveler as a prophet, Gabriel and Maya evade the Brethren's searches for them.

Lawrence Tanaka is the son of a Harlequin who works for the Brethren but secretly sends information to the Harlequins. He steals a sword that is sent to the Brethren but is unable to escape with it.

Maya takes Gabriel to a commune that is hiding a pathfinder, a woman who can help a Traveler learn to travel across boundaries to different worlds. He learns to travel to the between worlds and finds his brother Michael there. Unknown to Gabriel, Michael has joined forces with the Brethren so he can be a part of the group in power. When Gabriel meets Michael again in the next world, he tells Michael where he is. Soon the Brethren abduct Gabriel and Vicky. Maya and Hollis drive across the country to rescue them.

The concepts in the story have potential, but it never seemed to amount to much. There was never much suspense in the story, and it felt like I always knew what was going to happen next. The characters, other than Maya, are very flat and one-sided. And the dialog was some of the worst I've ever listened to. (Perhaps reading Catch-22 at the same time spoiled me.) Twelve Hawks does a pretty good job describing the surveillance capabilities of the "vast machine," but the members of the Brethren are too stereotypical to enjoy properly. There's insufficient reason for Michael to join forces with the people to burned his house down and tried to kill his father. Maya is well drawn, as the angry and conflicted protector, with the single-minded devotion that conflicts with her need to not get too close to her charge. I was also mystified about why the Brethren and the Travelers were in conflict at all. True, they may encourage people to live off the grid, but what does this have to do with traveling to different worlds? There's never an explanation of what they find in the other worlds or how it makes them different when they return, just that they become teachers or prophets. What's left is a group of story elements that don't quite come together to make a satisfying story. B-


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