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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Mind the Gap" by Christopher Golden + Tim Lebbon

Read An Extract HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: A prolific and bestselling writer of horror, fantasy, and suspense for adults, teens, and young readers, Christopher Golden’s bibliography includes The Veil Trilogy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Hellboy tie-in books, Ghosts of Albion (w/Amber Benson), and “Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire”, co-authored with Mike Mignola, which they are currently scripting as a feature film for New Regency. Christopher has also collaborated with Thomas E. Sniegoski on The Menagerie series, the OutCast novels, the comic book miniseries Talent, and the upcoming comic book miniseries The Sisterhood—the latter three titles have all been acquired for film adaptation. Other upcoming works include “Poison Ink” for Delacorte, “Soulless” for MTV Books and “British Invasion” for Cemetery Dance Publications. Read Fantasy Book Critic’s latest review/interview with Christopher Golden HERE.

Tim Lebbon is a British writer of horror and dark fantasy. He has won three British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, a Shocker and a Tombstone Award. Tim’s bibliography includes the “Dusk/Dawn” duology, the Noreela novel “Fallen”, “Beserk”, “The Everlasting”, “Hellboy: Unnatural Selection” and the New York Times bestselling movie novelization of
30 Days of Night. He is also the author of the novella “White”, soon to be a major motion picture. Forthcoming/new releases include “The Island” (2009-a Noreela novel) from Bantam Spectra, “The Whisper of Southern Lights” for Necessary Evil Press, “British Invasion” for Cemetery Dance Publications, “Last Exit for the Lost” from Cemetery Dance, “Bar None” for Night Shade Books, and “The Reach of Children” (w/Michael Marshall Smith introduction) for Humdrumming. Read Fantasy Book Critic’s latest review/interview with Tim Lebbon HERE.

Besides collaborating on “The Map of Moments” (Spring 2009), the second novel of
The Hidden Cities, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon are also co-authoring The Secret Journeys of Jack London YA novels for Atheneum.

PLOT SUMMARY:Jazz Hide Forever”. These were her mother’s last words, written in her own blood. Now suddenly on her own, Jasmine Towne is going to need every skill she’s ever been taught to survive. For a cabal of enigmatic, black-cad strangers she calls the ‘Uncles’ are after Jazz for unknown reasons and her only escape is to slip into the forgotten tunnels of London’s vast Underground. Here she meets a tribe of runaway urchins and survivors calling themselves the United Kingdom and begins an adventure that links her to the ghosts of a city long past, a father she never knew, and a destiny she fears only slightly less than the relentless killers who would commit any crime under heaven or earth to prevent her from fulfilling…

CLASSIFICATION:Mind the Gap” is a contemporary mystery thriller with elements of Oliver Twist, a caper story, and a dash of the supernatural—namely ghosts, Victorian magic, and steampunk. Basically, it’s kind of like a ‘modern day Oliver Twist’ meets The Thomas Crown Affair/Ocean’s 11 meets Neil Gaiman’sNeverwhere” with a tiny sprinkling of John Twelve Hawk’sThe Traveler” and The Illusionist/The Prestige mixed in. “Mind the Gap” is an adult novel that is mostly suitable for older YA readers with only a little R-rated violence and language…

FORMAT/INFO: Page count is 368 pages divided over twenty chapters. Narration is in the third-person, exclusively via the protagonist Jasmine ‘Jazz’ Towne. “Mind the Gap” is the first novel in
The Hidden Cities series and is self-contained, although I could possibly see a sequel sometime down the road :) Includes a 15-page preview of the second novel in The Hidden Cities, “The Map of Moments”, which features new characters and a new city—post-Katrina New Orleans.

May 20, 2008 marks the North American Trade Paperback release of “Mind the Gap” via
Bantam Spectra. Cover artwork is provided by Stephan Martiniere.

ANALYSIS: Even though “Mind the Gap” is extremely fast-paced, the novel started out really slowly for me and it wasn’t until 160 pages in that I began to get excited about the book. The problem was that for almost the first half it seemed like Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon were just going through the motions, delivering a plot that was one recognizable convention after another:

The protagonist’s mother mysteriously murdered by shadowy people and forced on the run… Raised to trust no one, Jazz constantly lives in a state of paranoia… Discovers a forgotten subterranean Underworld of abandoned bomb shelters and train stations… The whole London backdrop and its ghosts of the past… A group of runaway urchins—and their Fagin-like mentor Mr. F—who survive by stealing from those ‘topside’… Possessing abilities that no one else has...

It wasn’t until the gentleman thief came into the picture in Chapter Eleven that “Mind the Gap” began to get really interesting. Questions were answered, pieces of the jigsaw puzzle started to fall into place, the intensity and excitement was ramped up, and the novel began to show off some of that imagination and panache that the authors are known for, including a heart-pounding finish—particularly the last fifty pages—of unexpected twists, tragedy, old magic, and rebirth…

Of the authors, “Mind the Gap” may be the first collaboration between Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, but their writing styles mesh together so well in the book, it’s like they were born to work with one another. Both write with great confidence, possess smooth prose, know how to tell an engaging story, and are vividly creative. Plus, they really complement one another. Tim has a gift for evoking the horrific, while Christopher knows how to appeal to the younger/mainstream audience, both of which come into play in the novel. The one drawback regarding the authors is their characters. While Christopher & Tim can write well-drawn characters, they tend to lack a certain depth & intimacy and the cast in “Mind the Gap” is no exception. Other than that, there’s not much to complain about apart from the slow beginning.

CONCLUSION:It’s now how you start, but how you finish”. This old adage has been applied to everything from life to sports, and it works just as well for a novel. At least for me, I will always appreciate more a novel that starts slowly and ends on a high note opposed to one that starts strongly and peters out at the end. “Mind the Gap” by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon is the former: a novel that takes a while to get going, but when it finally does kick into high gear, the results are spectacular. Because of the terrific finish—and the combined talents of two great authors in Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon—I highly recommend “Mind the Gap” and have high hopes for the next Hidden Cities novel…

4 comments:

Dark Wolf said...

Very good review, Robert, once again :) I'm very interested in this novel and I think I have a copy coming my way. If not I will include this novel in my shopping list.

Kimberly Swan said...

Great review, the book does sound interesting. I'm always amazed when two authors can write well together, but I'm totally impressed that Christopher Golden is able to do that with several other authors. :)

Robert said...

Thanks both of you!

Mihai, if you get a copy, you're in for a treat, because both Chris & Tim know how to writing engaging novels and I really think the Hidden Cities series could be something special :)

Kimberly, I really enjoy collaborations and I think Christopher is one of the best at it! Hope you get a chance to check it out :)

Anonymous said...

i have read this book and it was very interesting at first i didnt know what to think of it but as i read on it got interesting and i stayed up all night reading it i just couldnt put it down :)

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