It is very rare that a second novel, let alone a middle novel in a trilogy, can surpass the first. In this case, not only has Shepherd done it, she’s surpassed an incredibly well written debut novel with an even more creative, intense and harrowing follow-up. It is NOT a place holder as many middle books are in trilogies and I was incredibly impressed.
Whereas H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau inspired The Madman’s Daughter, took her inspiration for this novel from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I CANNOT wait for the third novel, thankfully it give me time to read the book it’s based on, but I won’t tell you in case you want to read it as it’s revealed in the final pages of this novel.
This was quite possibly the strangest and quirkiest book I’ve read in ages. The majority of it comes from the randomness of the collection of short stories, but a lot of it comes from Novak’s rather odd, but incredibly witty imagination. My friend Caitrin lent me this ages ago and I finally got around to reading it.
The first I heard about it was on the podcast Dinner Party Download where Novak read a few of his short stories and then he was in Boston for a reading and book signing and Caitrin and a few friends went. I didn’t go as I’m super selective over what books I want signed, my bookshelf space is severely limited, but I would definitely go to hear him speak now, having read the book! Doesn’t hurt he’s a local boy from Newton and went to Harvard so even more reason to pay attention (never really followed The Office so wasn’t familiar with him at all).
Of the three books in the On the Seventh Day trilogy, this was my favorite. It has been almost two years since I read By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and Veronika Decides to Die was too institutional for me, but this novel was great and approaches the simplicity and beauty of The Alchemist, but kept the idea of an external catalyst which Veronika Decides to Die had.
As with the last novel it’s difficult to go into this one without revealing too many details. A stranger visits the unchanging village of Viscos and creates an ethical/spiritual dilemma that the entire village must agree or disagree to participate in, all or nothing. As with Coelho’s other novels this novel focuses on very few people, but they are ordinary. He said it best in the author’s introduction, Click here to continue reading.
I’m exhausted. This series has spanned 2.200+ pages and more than 10 centuries! It covers lifetimes of characters, many lived over and over and a few lived once throughout the entire story! (20 years shy of 1000 years old, one character!) The story was convoluted and continuously changed which ultimately worked for and against the series.
As the concluding novel in this epic story, it felt a little hollow. There were definitely moments of amazement and creativity and Simmons intelligence once again comes across unquestionably, but for some reason it just felt a little hollow and most definitely rushed at the end. Even though I hadn’t fully thought through the end of the novel when I got there I was not surprised at the ending. It did feel a little deus ex machina, but with a “machine” like the Shrike, how could it be any other way?
If I’m completely honest, I expected this book to fail miserably. After the feeling of utter astonishment at the brilliance of the first two novels in the Hyperion Cantos, how could the follow-up novels remotely compare?
Thankfully, this first one was excellent. Simmons solved part of the problem by fast forwarding almost 300 years into the even further future and starting from there. As with the first two novels, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, this novel is told from someone who is simultaneously outside (looking back) and inside of the story, essentially revolving around them. The novel’s opening definitely put me on guard and I was very worried that I wouldn’t see any of the characters from the previous novels, but we already knew the technology existed to extend life well beyond a normal lifespan and thankfully some came back!