Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not a book review

as I didn't finish the book.
But Matthew Sharpe's Jamestown just lost me after a strong(ish) first half.
The story is essentially set perhaps a few generations in the future as various boroughs in New York are stuck in a seemingly endless resource war.
A group of mercenaries are sent by "Manhattan" to set up in Virginia where they believe there's oil to be had and are ordered to wrestle control of it away from Indians now in charge.
Parallels to the original American arrival and expansion and a lesser one to current American misadventures in Iraq (not spoken of in the novel, but timely by accident) make for a great premise and the hook of the book is in the beginnings of an attraction between a young Indian (Pocahontas) sheeesh! and a "communications specialist" John Rolfe. They each have wireless devices and communicate while both camps engage in brinkmanship after the "Northerners" arrive in Virginia.
Pocahontas does make the novel. She's brash, dying to grow up and a great character. Sharpe is smart to give her free reign with dialogue and I was fine as long as she was on the page. When she's not, I was in trouble. The half dozen or so Northern men given character status in the book had a sameness to them, and given their shared circumstance I found that they started to bleed into each other.
Since events were narrated by a variety of characters, both Indians and Northerners, the aforementioned sameness started to become pronounced enough that I lost my enthusiasm fairly soon after that.
It's not you, Mr. Sharpe. It's me.
No arguments with the story, but the style and over oration of the novel by characters half starved and mad with disease didn't hold up for me. I know Jamestown was never written as a realist novel, so perhaps I wasn't bringing the right mindset to the book.
Reviews are mixed, but perhaps any post-apocalyptic road novel will be unfairly compared to Cormac McCarthy for awhile. I know I was reading Jamestown in it's shadow.

Posted by Dave

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