Keeping It Real by Justina Robson (Quantum Gravity Book One)
Review Summary: Overall I enjoyed the book a great deal, but was just a little disappointed with how it skated over quite a few things to pursue an almost purely action story – and was also a little let down by the “James Bond” ending.
Robson’s Keeping It Real is a well-written, fast-paced page-turner, and very good for entertainment purposes though it comes up just a hair short from the larger picture
The characters are unique and interesting, with a hint of backstories that lend them the depth needed for one to believe the character is real and worth considering. The problem is that while we know the characters are flawed, we don’t get much into the meat of who they are and how they came to be in this first novel, and these potentially rich peices of information are primarily glossed over as the narrative moves quickly to becoming a sexy action flick.
Plot-wise, Keeping It Real does just fine as an action story, with enough potential conflict inherent in the setting to promise more interesting mayhem as the series progresses, but again the author seems to gloss over points which could be vastly more serious and interesting, in the interest of pushing forward the action sequences. What could be an interspatial political firestorm having far-ranging implications is treated as nothing more than a brief day-in-the-life of this unique special agent and her charge, and short-changes both the character and the story.
Thematically, the author makes some interesting points about our world in comparing normal human experience against the speculative world of Alfheim, and could possibly do some real justice to the psychology of an accidental warrior class trapped into a game they don’t understand and have limited control over. The theme of this first novel, however, seems to be pretty blasé – insularity for the greater good, at any cost, is a flawed plan for survival in the face of change.
Overall I enjoyed the book a great deal, but was just a little disappointed with how it skated over quite a few things to pursue an almost purely action story – and was also a little let down with the “James Bond” ending. For as complex as the two main characters appear to be, the ending seemed a bit trite and not as powerful as it could have been.