The Edge of Reason (Melinda Snodgrass, Edge #1)

1.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
The Edge of Reason initially promised to be an intriguing and unique urban fantasy but somehow lost its way and doesn’t have much to recommend it after the initial setup. I recognize that this is the first in a series and this first book was probably intended to mostly establish the setting and characters for the subsequent books, but I don’t think it stands alone very well. I don’t think I’ve encountered a book before with such an encouraging start that just completely lost its way after the premise had been established and just sort of wandered around purposelessly until the cliffhanger conclusion. I really wanted to like this book, and the subsequent books in the series might be as brilliant as this one was initially, but as a standalone I can’t recommend it, and I’m not personally motivated to read something else by this author after this disappointment.

Greater Detail:
Richard Oort is a humble policeman trying to better his community who becomes embroiled in an ancient conflict between faith and reason embodied in the forms of technology vs magic. As he draws deeper into the conflict, he comes to realize that his choices will have grave consequences for both himself and the course of the world.

I don’t think I’ve read a book with so much unfulfilled promise before. The characters are unique and have motivations that seem like they will lead to interesting conflicts, the setting has a distinct twist between the battle between good and evil, and the plot initially gives all indications that it is going to rollick along, but somehow, up until the abrupt cliffhanger conclusion that feels a bit tacked on, nothing really interesting develops after this. It never occurred to me after the very strong introduction that the rest of the book would be composed of pointless dithering around.

Even more strangely, to get to the conclusion quite a bit of stuff happens that could be interesting, but it all happens offscreen or in a few sentences. There is ample material here to fill a book, but it’s like the author was making a conscious effort to make the book mundane and uninteresting. As an example, there is a fairly plot-important love triangle which could have theoretically carried the book by itself. Unfortunately, the author gives it so little attention that when it comes up in the conclusion you almost forget that it existed at all. The characters involved in the love triangle don’t have any real reason to be interested in each other other than physical attractiveness, they spend almost no time together during which they could theoretically develop strong feelings, and when the protagonist finally chooses one of the women it’s not because of any sort of internal conflict but boils down to the fact that one of the women is legal and the other isn’t.

I’m not asking for high melodrama, but most of the book is composed of the pedestrian and uninteresting. I don’t think it would have been as frustrating if the tools to make an interesting story weren’t everywhere already in the story and the author just couldn’t be bothered to use them. Perhaps the author has grand plans for the sequels and doing anything else in this book would disrupt what she has coming, but I found this book to be frustrating and barely readable while at the same time tantalizing for what it could have been.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
The start of the book, the part that was good, felt almost like Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. They both had this same feeling of the modern world being familiar yet foreign, with mystical conflicts boiling just beneath the surface of the ordinary.

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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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