Book Review: Isolate (The Grand Illusion #1) by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (four stars)
“Good seldom happens overnight. Only darkness.”
Glacial pace. Alfred Hitchcock said drama is life with the dull parts cut out. Modesitt leaves them in. Every meal, every change of clothes, traffic directions, weather reports. Curiously omits smells. A 300-page story crammed into 600.
“Politics is a combination of bitter reality and necessary illusion.” “Isn’t life, sometimes?” “Sometimes, but not always. Unlike politics.”
Virtuoso world building. Steam-punk analog of Europe circa 1900. Politics, economics, murder, and romance as seen by an Isolate, one whose emotions are hidden to others. Others include emphatics, normal, and susceptibles based on their ability to perceive and project emotions. Despite guns restricted to the military and police plenty of mayhem and bloodshed.
“Everything is more complex when you look into it.”
Because the protagonist tells the reader what he perceives and thinks, the reader must deduce what’s really happening. The conclusion is obvious, but Modesitt builds a plausible case and maintains suspense. Series opener.
“Right now … we don’t need any more complications.”
I’d love some complications. “I understand.” I don’t have to like it, but I understand.
Looks like the beginning of several books that will be fine.
You have FAR more patience than I do – and I love ‘A 300-page story crammed into 600.’
My process is to DISCARD anything I can, to let the reader fill in the pieces. This sounds more like an attempt to overwrite the reader’s mental database. Unfortunately, I can no longer attempt to read this kind of fiction – you gave it 4* for a reason, in spite of your comment, so there has to be something to it that appealed to you, and I’m assuming it’s the worldbuilding mentioned – but I don’t think it’s for me right now.