Book Review: The Fold
I'm a big fan of Peter Clines' Ex-Heroes series, so, given that I'm an author-loyal reader, I decided to pick up Clines' novel The Fold - my first non-Ex-Heroes experience with his writing.
The Fold follows Mike Erikson, a genius with an eidetic memory, as he's shanghaied by DARPA into examining an ongoing project: a device that "folds" dimensions and allows instantaneous travel. But there's something distinctly off with the project and it's Mike's mission to discover exactly what. The scientists resist at first, but soon they're all swept up by Lovecraftian horror as they learn how the gate truly works and what's lurking beyond it.
Clines has a gift for creating fascinating characters; his Ex-Heroes series is full of people with superpowers and neuroses in equal measure. Mike would fit in among them no problem. He's a likable enough main character. I found the red ant/black ant metaphor for Mike's memory and deductive skills to be a trifle odd and overplayed, but it's still fun watching him play Sherlock Holmes (a comparison that comes up more than once).
The rest of the characters were nothing standout, not like Mike, but with their wide variety of personalities, they provide an interesting ensemble to explore the core premise of the novel: namely, that the gate doesn't do what the scientists think it does. I'll just leave it at that, because I don't want to spoil.
More than anything in this book, I enjoyed the guessing game of trying to analyze, along with Mike, what's so "off" about the project. The clues start coming very early in the novel, and it's definitely possible to puzzle it out before Mike lets the cat out of the bag. If you're familiar with some of the science that flies around teleportation and multiverse theory, you'll be able to piece it together from the clues Clines lovingly layers into the plot.
That being said, the investigation of what the gate does takes up about 2/3 of the book, leaving only 1/3 for dealing with the horrific consequences. As much as I love Clines' books for being quick reads, I sort of wish this one was longer so we could really get a meatier confrontation. The climax is fine for what it is, I just wanted more.
And while I loved the concept of what the gate does, I wasn't thrilled with the explanation of how. I suppose Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law applies here, but it struck me as a rather fantastical addition to a book that advertises itself as more science fiction in nature. I like my science fiction at least plausible, and we were good up to a point, but then it went off the rails into more of a science fantasy (which is not a mix I particularly care for, despite what you might guess from my reading tastes).
In the end, I'd call this one a fun read if you're looking for something quick and light and you like your Lovecraft with a side of science. I prefer Ex-Heroes, but I still enjoyed reading The Fold. It's just not going to make my Best Of list.