Monday, July 6, 2009

The Fire by Katherine Neville

The Fire is the sequel to Neville's book The Eight, which I read over my Christmas break this past winter. I was sent this book to review by the kind folks at Random House/Ballantine. I cannot recall if it were a LibraryThing request or if the publisher simply sent me an unsolicited copy.

This novel picks up twenty-some years after the events of The Eight. Cat Velis, the hero of that novel, now has a daughter, Alexandra, who early on showed some prowess at chess, but has since left the chess world altogether. It begins to appear that The Game, put to rest at the end of The Eight may have begun again. It's up to Alexandra to stop it, with no help from her mother, who has disappeared. The book follows Alexandra on her trip around the world, trying to piece together the puzzles left for her by her mother, attempting to once again bring The Game to a halt. Interwoven with Alexandra's quest are scenes from 1822, where Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter, Haidee, races to hide the Black Queen from those who would use it for harm.

This book was nowhere near the follow-up I would have expected. I had hoped for something in the same vein as The Eight, with pulse-pounding car chases and a fascinating series of events leading up to the ultimate conclusion. I just didn't find the action in this book as compelling. I barely found the action at all. There was too much Middle Eastern history, not enough car chases. There, I said it. I love a fast-moving plot. I can sacrifice a fast-moving plot for good character development. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that this book had either. I found myself skipping over the history lessons, since I have no interest in Middle Eastern history, trying to get back to the part where Alexandra DOES something.

I also feel that the ending was rushed. There was a lot of build up to what little action there was, then it was like we dropped off the edge of a cliff to the end. The romance was barely believable, since the characters met each other, spent a couple of hours together, were then separated for several days, and then reunited, only to find that they were in LOOOOVE. Maybe the final version has some significant plot changes; otherwise, I can't really recommend this one. It wasn't necessary to re-open the storyline of The Eight. I'd give it two and a half out of five Whatevers. Read The Eight instead.


Staci said...

That's what I'm going to do: Read The Eight, Skip The Fire!!

Loved reading your thoughts on this one and I'm with you on good fast-moving plots!!

jenclair said...

It is always a shame when a sequel doesn't live up to the first novel. I've heard good things about The Eight, however, and do plan to get around to it one day.

Lexi said...

Staci and jenclair:

The Eight was really good. This one was such a disappointment. Oh well...such is life!