Thursday, April 9, 2015

When the ONE Laughs by Tim Chante #review

Title: When the ONE Laughs
Author: Tim Chante, 2013

Okay, this is going to be a difficult review for me, because I really wanted to like this novel. I certainly cannot fault the writing, which is of a high quality, but from the storytelling perspective it fell a bit flat for me, mainly due to the amount of exposition in which the author engaged – to the point where I often felt as if I was being made to read a new age, self-help manual.

That being said, I could see the potential of this story becoming a little like Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, if there had been more of a swing in the direction of satire, but I gained the impression that that wasn’t quite what the author was aiming at with When the ONE Laughs.

While the premise and the setting could have been developed, I felt that the quest-style narrative didn’t quite get off the ground. Main character Priya is involved in a vehicle accident that magically transports her to another earthlike realm where the laughs of physics obey more, *ahem*, esoteric principles. Guardian angels and spirit guides abound, and they take an active interest in the lives of their charges while demons try to bring about a renaissance for the ominously entitled Darkness.

Priya embarks on a quest to help her soul mate, Tohmas, and prevent the aforementioned nefarious Darkness from succeeding in completing its evil plot to expand its operations. Somewhere along the way, she also comes to terms with her place in life, the Universe, and Everything, aided by the mysterious ONE.

This in itself provides a decent backbone for a novel, and the setting itself, with its odd technology (involving hoverbikes and chatty gadgets named speculators, among other things) were decidedly quirky and amusing, but all the while, with the continuous deus ex machina, the pacing never quite gains enough momentum, nor do I feel that any of the characters ever really were in any true peril, which would certainly have helped tension.

Though there are “evil” entities, they seem more cartoon like and not at all threatening. And, maybe that was the point, but I feel that many plot elements were present but not developed. The feline sidekick is one such that in my mind, could have served some sort of pivotal role but didn’t.

Okay, my own misgivings aside, if past lives and alternative spirituality are your things, you’ll probably gobble this feel-good story right up and take something away from it, but unfortunately I was not that reader.

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