Monday 7 November 2016

New Pompeii - A Review

NEW POMPEII by Daniel Godfrey

Well, it finally happened – humans cracked the dilemma behind time travel – sort of.  Looking for a source of renewable energy, NovusPart accidentally found they could transport people into the present, but only if they were at the moment of their death at the time of transport.  No discretion as to who or how many came back, it was a mass event.  A few hits and misses proved that the technology worked best if it went further back in time.  Experimenting with recent plane crashes proved disastrous.

Everyone knows exactly when Vesuvius erupted so they planned a New Pompeii; a re-creation of the original populated by real Pompeians.  For Nick Houghton this was a dream come true – to be able to study the people, the language and the culture in a pseudo-real environment.  Nick wasn’t sure why he was chosen for the job as he was not the most qualified candidate and he had no idea about what happened to his predecessor.  But really, what could possibly go wrong?

The technology had its naysayers and protestors, Nick’s good friend among them.  Soon enough Nick got to thinking that maybe those groups had a point. 

I took the Latin elective in high school only because the teacher was marvelous.  He was one of those rare teachers able to bring even a dead language to life and make it fun and interesting.  I’ve had a slight fascination with Vesuvius and Pompeii ever since.  I didn’t want to wait for this book at the library so I went out and bought it.  Honestly, I wish I had waited.  It wasn’t a horrible read.  I enjoyed the premise and some of the characters had me cheering and/or booing appropriately.  History and Pompeii itself were well researched which helped bring New Pompeii to life.  The action part of the story needed a little more oomph – it moved slowly and too many elements were brought into the story that didn’t need to be there.  Yes, it’s nice to add something unexpected to build suspense, but in this case it just slowed the story down even more; as a reader I wasn’t sure whether to become involved in the new mini-plot?  Did it matter? 

At 450+ pages this was a fairly lengthy book that could, in my opinion, have been 100 pages shorter.  Although it did not end on a cliff hanger I got a niggling feeling that there might be a second book, along the same vein, in the making.  Sure enough, in the author’s biography at the end of the book, a sequel was announced.  I’ll pick it up out of curiosity and to see where the story goes.

The comparisons to Michael Crichton may be a bit premature.  This being his debut novel Mr. Godfrey is not there – yet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book cover)

Daniel Godfrey lives and works in Derbyshire, but tries his best to hold on to his Yorkshire roots.  He studied geography at Cambridge University, before gaining an MSc in transport planning at Leeds.  He enjoys reading history, science and SFF.


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