I have just finished Winter World, a sci-fi novel which follows the main character’s in trying to figure out what is causing “The Long Winter”. An unexpected cooling of the Earth that is seeming to never end, and may threaten all life on Earth. I won’t ruin any surprises about how or why the long winter is occurring, but you’ll often find yourself attempting to guess throughout the book. With the characters always hinting at their own theories, you start to put pieces together bit by bit, and occasionally having a pleasurable, “I knew it!”, kind of moment.
The novel itself is a mystery coated with astronomy and a little bit of romance. A.G. Riddle successfully uses a journal entry style of writing from his character’s perspectives. Albeit it, the entry style is mostly in present tense. With the story taking a large amount of time in outer space, incorporating research and building mechanical creations, the book makes many jumps in time between sections. In my opinion, this is a necessary writing tool, as it exemplifies the amount of time things take when it comes to space travel and scientific processes.
Riddle does a great job at showing that no character is safe from the dangers that lie within the story. For someone with limited knowledge in astronomy and physics, the story remains plausible. The parts in the story that fill more of the fiction side of the genre, surrounds a main character, James Sinclair. The character could be compared to a Sherlock Holmes who specializes in Machines and Anatomy. Sinclair is a mysterious character with a hidden background story. Throughout the book, Riddle gives clues as to how Sinclair ended up in Prison, where we meet him at the start of the story. I’ll leave you to your theories, but Riddle does a fantastic job at not giving some of Sinclair’s secrets away until just the right moment.
Another aspect that Riddle accomplished in this novel, was looking at psychology and human behaviors while traveling in space. There is a strong sense of loyalty among crew members that consist of very intelligent individuals. Personally I think that there would likely be more rowdy behaviors among a crew placed in the same situation, but that’s up for debate. Riddle gives great insights about the characters’ emotions, and thoughts about others, and the main characters are very intentional about how their actions affect the morale of those around them. I never found myself hating any characters that you weren’t supposed to hate.
One part of the writing I have some criticisms about, is just how frequent that character perspective changes between chapters. There are a lot of mini cliff hangers that you just wish had been finished from the same character’s perspective. Some times after one of these mini cliff hangers, there is a gap in time and information, with the next character slightly alluding to the conclusion that you had missed. In reality, this is likely just a byproduct of having a perspective presented by different characters, and overall it can be overlooked.
I give the book a 7.5 out of 10, it did a good job at keeping me engaged, but not so much that I was ready to stay up all night reading. I look forward to reading the second book in the Long Winter Trilogy.
-Thoughts of a Writing Freak