Empire State by Adam Christopher
It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York. When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist.
Sometimes a book comes along that doesn't quite fit into the categories we have already established for fiction novels. We tend to refer to these as novels that bend and cross genres, novels that are pushing the envelope, novels that are attempted to redefine our known and accepted universe. Empire State by Adam Christopher is one such novel - a book that blends comic book science heroes, noir style mysteries, the 1930's-1950's, airships, robots, prohibition, and parallel worlds. This is an eclectic mix of styles, complete with an eclectic mix of characters, and Christopher does an admirable job of bringing so much of it together. But, after a rip roaring start Empire State gradually loses its way and I'm left with that sinking feeling of what might have been.
The Empire State is a copy of New York, a city in a bubble created by a violent energy blast during a fight between the city's last two science heroes. The story revolves around Rad Bradley, a private detective in the Empire State whose latest case gets him tangled in a complex web of robotic killers, inter-dimensional doppelgangers, and science heroes looking to settle a few scores. When things start to look dire, it is up to Rad and a bunch of friends from both dimensions to make a stand and save both worlds from destruction. The opening scenes of this book are some of the most exciting and promising opening scenes I have read in a book. You get car chases, you heroes in suits flying above the city shooting energy beams at each other, and you get some dark, gritty, back alley murders in the rain. The story also gets pretty complex, with a number of different plot threads and sub plots weaving their way in and out of the main story line from very early. I like this added complexity, I have read a lot of complex stories lately so it was good to have a story that really made me think. The problem for me was that the main storyline really started to lose it's identity about half way through, and from there the complex threads and sub plots started to become a tangled mess that would end up going unresolved at the end of the story. It was about the same time that I realised the actions of Rad were largely inconsequential, that he had stopped driving the story and was just a passenger who happened to have the most viewpoints. I think this story stopped working when the protagonist stopped being a protagonist, and while things did pick up towards the end, it was a case of too little too late.
While the story may have suffered from a lack of consistency, the characters more than make up for it by being a cast of wonderfully unique and mysterious people whose motivations are hinted at but well hidden. Rad is a fantastic character who I built a lot of empathy for, he is a guy who is good at his job, a guy who looks to the future, a guy who enjoys having a few too many drinks, and a guy who is willing to test his mettle and put himself in uncomfortable situations without any thought of personal gain. It provides a perfect contrast to Rex, the gangster from New York whose every action is motivated by personal gain, and who often chooses the easy option whenever it presents itself. Combine these guys with the brash and enthusiastic Kane, the borderline eccentric Carson, the devious / schizophrenic Pastor of Lost Souls, the noble Skyguard and the Science Pirate with an inferiority complex, and you get a wonderful cast that inhabit this eclectic world and tell this complex story.
The writing here is of a very high standard, much higher than a number of other debut authors whose works I have read over the past few years. The pacing of his story is just right, his explanation of complex scientific gobbledygook is so easy to understand without there being any condescension in the writing, and his general prose makes this story very easy to read. He manages evoke emotions consistent with what is going on in the plot, and for the first half of the book I had no trouble immersing myself in his world.
Empire State is a book starts off by promising the world but ends up delivering the shell of a parallel bubble. Christopher does so many things right in this book, but the issues with plotting during the second half of the book stick out like a sore thumb. Despite the issues, Empire State shows off a world full of potential, and clearly demonstrates that Christopher is a talented author who is sure to become a real force in the future. It was a lot of fun to read, you should give it try, and I will definitely be checking out his next release.
This Empire State book review was written by Ryan Lawler
Have you read Empire State?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Empire State reader reviews
8.1/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Mortal Engines Quartet
Long before the days of Mortal Engines, London is poised on the brink of apocalypse. Huge armoured fortresses are advancing across the wastelands - a new and terrifying kin...
Gareth L Powell
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque’. The troubl...
Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius
Kevin J Anderson
The young Verne and his best friend Andre Nemo stow away on a ship bound for the high seas, but Jules' father catches Jules and forces him to come home in total disgrac...
In Dark Service
Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He's living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter ... on those occasions...
Art and his family are invited on a fantastic free holiday to the exotic Asteroid Belt, in a remote part of space near Mars. Taking the train, they arrive to discover that ...
A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Evil is most assuredly afoot - and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade... and a librarian. These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s Englan...
Grandville Mon Amour
The beefy badger DI Archie LeBrock is languishing in self-pity, driven to drink (as every good copper should be) by the guilt of Sarah’s murder. When his partner, Rod...
The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide
Bringing together an action-filled story full of automatons, airships and a dastardly plot to take over the world and instructions on how to make your own gadgets, The Stea...
A Tale of Langdon St. Ives
James P Blaylock
It is the summer of 1883 and Professor Langdon St. Ives – brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer – is at home in Aylesford with his family. However, a f...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: