01/09/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Ballantine Books. 294 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $14.00 (US), $16.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-50391-7.
check out website: www.ballantinebooks.com
I have to confess to being a little nervous when a publisher releases a book from one of their own employees. A lot of it is because they have to endorse its promotion and there's also the possibility that they might be too close to the material to see the book as we reviewers do. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is an upcoming author hoping he can give up his day job and write full time.
Thomas Nevins' 'The Age Of The Conglomerates' book unfortunately doesn't live up to its hype. Yes, he reads reasonably well but the story lacks depth, emotional content and ultimately, you don't care for the fate of the characters. All serious problems when there is more text than dialogue and a need to care when they disappear.
The setting is the near future and a political party called the Conglomerates is ruling the world. I learnt more about this from the back cover than the contents. Always a worrying sign. The main gist of the plot is tracking down various missing people but this lack of depth doesn't give any reason why you should care. A few more years experience and practice would probably have gotten Nevins more apt for dealing with a book with such ideas as this. People taken away only to re-appear later with little in the explanation isn't really the right way to write a story.
The reality is more of a flat bed with no real feel for suppression of the masses, more so when dealing with characters who are higher up the tree than those on the street. There is not everyman link to get into what is really going on here.
If you are tempted by this novel, try to read a sample before making your mind up to go after it. If Nevins can sort out all the inherent problems I see in this book then he might well develop but this is just far too ambitious for a first-time novelist.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA