Review: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

July 19, 2012 3.5 stars, Book Review 9 ★★★½

1916: the Western Front, France. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No man’s Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson has returned to the burned-out home of one Willis Linsay, a reclusive and some said mad, others dangerous, scientist. It was arson but, as is often the way, the firemen seem to have caused more damage than the fire itself. Stepping through the wreck of a house, there’s no sign of any human remains but on the mantelpiece Monica finds a curious gadget – a box, containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a…potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a ‘stepper’. An invention he put up on the web for all the world to see, and use, an invention that would to change the way mankind viewed his world Earth for ever. And that’s an understatement if ever there was one…

…because the stepper allowed the person using it to step sideways into another America, another Earth, and if you kept on stepping, you kept on entering even more Earths…this is the Long Earth. It’s not our Earth but one of chain of parallel worlds, lying side by side each differing from its neighbour by really very little (or actually quite a lot). It’s an infinite chain, offering ‘steppers’ an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away you travel, the stranger – and sometimes more dangerous – the Earths get. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our particular Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently.

But, until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind…or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people who are natural ‘steppers’, who don’t need his invention and now the great migration has begun..

The Long Earth was fascinating and thought provoking.  I have to say I tried again and again to engage my husband in conversation about “what if” and all the thoughts that this story brought to mind.

I do lament that there wasn’t as much of Terry Pratchett’s signature humor as I was anticipating.  I could definitely see some of it here and there but I surely wanted more.  A downside is it took me quite awhile to finish this one.  I thought I would gobble it down in a day but for some reason I just couldn’t get sucked in, even though I did really enjoy it, there was just so much awesome description and things to read about, all the POSSIBILITIES I SAY!!! haha.

I really think part of what gave me trouble was that I couldn’t pin down until about 100 pages the main characters in the book were.   Also, this was a very slow moving read, there wasn’t enough action compelling you forward.  It was a book for contemplating.  There was so much rich explanation and jumping forward and backward in time that I didn’t feel the urgency to finish it quickly that I do with some books.  I didn’t see a main story arc progressing.  Even by the end of the book I thought – now what was REALLY the plot?

Because it moves a lot from character to character, stringing a bunch of things and events together I was often wondering “why the heck did they choose to include this person’s story” only to understand their madness later on during the book.  It did give me a bit of a disjointed feeling.

The Long Earth had a lot of interesting scenarios and things that made you think, “is that how humanity would really react?” moments – but ultimately I felt like it was incomplete.  The book ended way too abruptly.  Yes, the main character Joshua figured out a few major things with his traveling companions, and there was character growth on his part that I was happy with but most of the last events in the book seemed so anticlimactic.  Once I did reach the end of the book my reaction was “Is that IT???” It just didn’t feel like its own complete story…even if a book is meant to be a series I still think the individual book should be able to stand on its own.   Obviously, I think there is going to be another book, and while I enjoyed this one I’m not foaming at the mouth for the next one if it goes in a similar fashion as this one.  I’ll of course read it though *evil laughter*

                                                                   Tabitha the Pabkins



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*Review Copy provided by Publisher for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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9 Responses to “Review: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter”

  1. jess

    That was a good review. It was direct and precise. The story of this book is captivating for what I read on the synopsis. On the other hand I have doubts about reading this book because I find slow paced books difficult to read and difficult to immerse myself in the story.
    [email protected] Jessy’s Bookends

    • Pabkins

      I was so surprised that it was this slow. I absolutely LOVE Terry Prachett and his discworld books, they are so fun, fast and full of humor. So this book really surprised me in how slow it was. I think its partly because it was a joint effort and they were really tackling some mind boggling possibilities that were meant to get you to think. It was still a great book but I didn’t LOVE it.
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    • Pabkins

      Terry Pratchett is one of the most famous British authors. He writes this awesome fantasy series called discworld – I think there are over 40 books in the world. Not all the same characters of course. They are absolutely hilarious. If you want to give him a try I say start with his book called “MORT” (Death decides to take a vacation and leaves a bumbling apprentice in charge). It’s my favorite of his so far!!

      The great thing about his books is you don’t HAVE to read them in order. You can and it would be good to. But it isn’t absolutely necessary. If you’re like me though and like to read things in order then you’d start with “The Color of Magic”
      Pabkins recently posted…Your Fate in Fiction: Your House At HogwartsMy Profile

      • FABR Steph

        Thank you for the suggestion. I am adding Mort to my TBR. I will let you know what I think. Thank you for the background information. I have seen the books here and there, but knew very little about them. Didn’t even know if the author was male or female. LOL
        FABR Steph recently posted…New Book Releases Week of July 23, 2012My Profile

  2. Uomo di Speranza

    I feel like many books with two authors are lacking something in the plot department. As a writer myself, I can’t imagine writing anything but nonfiction with someone else….I’m inclined to think that writing a book as a duo requires telepathy.
    Uomo di Speranza recently posted…Dominicans, Scots, and HipstersMy Profile

    • Pabkins

      I’d have to say the best books I’ve read that were co-authored were the Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman – also loved their dragonlance books.

      Oh and Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens – THAT was fantastic.

      So I KNOW it can be done and done very well. I think it is likely just really hard to do.
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