Book Review: The Bookseller

I spotted this one as a result of a sale (through one of the many e-book newsletters I receive daily) and the general idea is close to a manuscript I hope to start at some point this year (current working title, A.U.).  As a first foray into my ‘research reading’ on the topic, I didn’t have a lot of expectations.

Spoilers below!

I feel like The Bookseller belongs among my reads for The Year of Pleasures and The Unexpected Waltz (that is, I am about 20 years younger than the intended demographic).  As the book has been out awhile, I’m going to get into some of the more specific parts of the story – you have been warned!

By definition, any time travel or alternate universe type story is big concept.  That is, in a non-linear story line or following a set of events that takes place outside of known reality, you’re going to need to get the audience on board.  I believe Ms. Swanson was able to accomplish this.  Unfortunately, with the ending revealing that our protagonist Kitty was hallucinating her entire ‘real life’ (or at least the one we were introduced to) I felt…disappointed.  While the technique was a good way to resolve the two story lines, I actually was rooting for what ended up being her dream life.  Additionally, I’m not sure I really enjoyed that the creation of the alternate universe was due to the horrific event in Kitty’s life (to be more blunt, that she has a fairly serious psychotic break).

Major mental issues aside, there were a number of things the book did well – the introduction of two separate and distinct realities.  A decent set of characters, if a kind of vanilla protagonist.  A relatively quick read.  Unfortunately, I also found the writing very simplistic and the inclusion of a severely autistic son to not have any real impact on the plot (not to mention the main character’s initial horrified response to him).  In the end, I wasn’t really rooting for anyone — I just wanted things resolved.

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Not for me, and this isn’t even that great a cover.

What are your thoughts?  Have you read a good alternate time line novel?  Recommendations please!

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