Thursday, September 03, 2015

Roomies in a Hall of Mirrors

I started Peter Cline's 14 immediately after I finished The Fold, because I found out from the afterword that they're sort of set in the same world.  Same mythology, I guess you'd say.  I'm ashamed that it took me so long to read it, when I got a copy from Netgalley ages ago.  My excuse is that I thought it was a book of short stories, for some reason, and I have to talk myself into short stories.  

I'm so glad I had this waiting in the wings, because it's just what I wanted when I wanted more of The Fold. It's got a similar structure, but what made it worth reading was a different take on the mundanities around the mystery. Which is really what I'm in it for; the actual solution to the mystery isn't really the point.

Basically, our hero Nate is cruising along in life, not really doing anything and with no real passion or purpose.  He's got a low-rent temp job and nothing driving him.  When his roommate situation ends, he needs a new apartment, and ends up hearing about this nice, cheap place available in a building called the Kovach building.  

Nate moves in.  He meets the neighbors, who seem nice.  His apartment is great and super-cheap, which he can't quite figure out.  And when he asks the super about it, he gets hazy answers.  And when he asks the other residents about it, he finds out that everyone's been wondering this for a long time.  So Nate gets curious, and his new friends and neighbors get curious, too, and they poke around at the building.  

And things start to get weirder.  

There are doors with padlocks.  There are the weird apartment layouts.  There's that one wall that's always cold.  There's the elevator that never works, with a machine room that takes up half the roof.  And there are the weird green cockroaches with extra legs...

This book is about the unfolding of the mystery, and it's all about the ride.  The end point is a ripping yarn, but it's not about the mystery, it's about the detectives, and how this oddball group of neighbors--Tim, retired and ultracompetent; Xela, the artist; Veek, computer expert; Debbie and Clive, den parents; and of course Nate--put their particular skills together to find something enormous that's been hidden in plain sight for years.

This book is another one that I've mostly cast in my head.  Xela is Riley from Sense8 (which you need to go watch right now if you haven't), only with blue hair.  I think I picture Riley with more blue highlights than just the little ones she has.  Anyway, this girl, with solid blue hair, is my mental image of Xela.

Veek is Indira Varma, who played Idris Elba's estranged wife on Luther (again, go, now, watch it) and Oberon's paramour on Game of Thrones (ditto).  Veek's a bit younger, and not like any other character I've seen her play, but she's got this tough core that covers an emotional fragility that seems just right.  Also I think she's gorgeous.

There are a ton more characters, and I'm afraid I don't have links for all of them.  But casting helps a lot, because, as I said, there are a ton more characters.

I'm not sure if I liked this better than The Fold or not.  Nate was not as interesting as Mike, in that he didn't have super-genius powers, but he did have at least a little more character development.  The wider cast seemed a bit more well-rounded, and the sense of camaraderie really made the story worth reading, I think.  This book isn't changing my life or anything, but it was a quick, fun read.  I think I'm officially a Peter Cline fan.


Lianna Williamson said...

Do you need to read The Fold first? Or are they independent books set in the same universe? The description of this one appeals to me a lot, but I'm kind of anal about reading books in linear order.

LibraryHungry said...

The reverse, actually--14 is the first book, The Fold is the second, and I read them out of order. But it makes literally no difference whatsoever; there is exactly one scene that indicates they're connected at all, and it didn't detract at all from either book to have an idea what world you're in.

Lianna Williamson said...

Sweet! Thanks.