Plot: This well-plotted, well-paced novel follows two engaging storylines. The two plots ultimately join and the narrative balance and pacing are strong as the two come together.
Prose: The narrative is snappy and well-written. Expository sections are heavy on description without being laborious. Dialogue flows nicely, and the characters sound distinct when they speak. The balance of the plotlines is struck nicely, with the narration moving between the two smoothly.
Originality: The basic premise of the book is clever and original. The author doesn’t spend any more time than is required explaining the inventive aspects of the story, and this keeps the reader involved in the plot.
Character Development: The characters are well rendered. Meg is especially vivid and well rounded. Sam and Oscar do a great job of depicting different ethical and moral opinions, while other retreads add to the depth of the underlying thematic material.
Blurb: A riveting and unique sci-fi adventure.
Date Submitted: July 31, 2018
A parallel dimension holds the secret to an audacious project that allows people from the past to live in the present.
In the middle of the desert, Sam Ahearn of Ahearn Industries enters a nondescript warehouse to check out a portal there. Known as the Hole, it is the entry to another dimension. Sam enters the portal with his head of security, Oscar Larsen. A simple evaluation soon goes wrong when the portal door never reopens. In Bainbridge, New Hampshire, Carrie Heath awaits the arrival of distant relatives John and Sally Dearborn and their daughter, Meg. The Dearborns are no ordinary family; they lived and died in the 1800s and were brought back to life by Ahearn Industries thanks to an organism found within the alternate dimension. The Dearborns and others like them are called retreads (which of course refers to secondhand tires that receive new treads). While the Dearborns adjust to their new lives in contemporary society, Sam and Oscar struggle to stay alive within the Hole. When they meet Micajer “Cager” Barclay, a young man with a connection to Meg, they discover there may be another portal out of the Hole. But the key to their escape may rest with Meg. The latest from Hobbs (New Hope, 2014, etc.) is an irresistible sci-fi yarn with a provocative premise, strong characters, and fast-paced action. The concepts developed throughout the novel allow the author to explore questions of identity and the ethics of Ahearn’s enterprise. The chapters alternate between Sam’s and Oscar’s travails in the Hole and the Dearborn family’s encounters in Bainbridge, with excerpts from Margaret Dearborn’s diary serving as a bridge to connect the narratives. The structure is effective and offers a glimpse into the experiences of retreads from multiple perspectives. Hobbs introduces a large number of characters over the course of the tale and all are well-developed, especially Margaret, who decides to change her first name to Meg to reflect her new life as a retread. The action sequences within the Hole are gripping as Sam and Oscar confront a mysterious and dangerous world.
Inventive and compulsively readable sci-fi.