Review: Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan

July 10, 2014 3.5 stars, Book Review, Science Fiction 13 ★★★½

Review: Hollow World by Michael J. SullivanHollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
Published by Tachyon Publishing on April 15, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Science fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Author

*This book was provided by the Author for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

The future is coming...for some, sooner than others.

Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but when faced with a terminal illness, he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. He could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World.

Welcome to the future and a new sci-fantasy thriller from the bestselling author of The Riyria Revelations.


Hollow World is enjoyable, has a fantastic concept and doesn’t fit well into any one category, which is appealing to me. But best of all, I enjoyed it. I can see many people reading this and coming to wildly different conclusions and feelings, it is really just that fascinating. I am probably going to recommend this to a lot of people I know so that we can have some dialogue on it. Here is my interpretation.

Ellis Rogers, on an impulse, decides to push the button and try traveling forward in time. He is dying, his marriage is over and his son has committed suicide. Since he has nothing left to lose, and only 6 months left due to a terminal illness he goes for it! When he arrives, he witnesses a murder and heads down into the Hollow World, where things like murder just don’t happen anymore. We are introduced to Pax, hairless and sexless, one of a few million people who are left inhabiting our planet after a climate related apocalypse. Every person is a clone which has been engineered to perfection. People live forever and there are no rules, money, hunger or other problems because they have replicator machines called “makers” that can make anything you desire. In this society uniqueness is the treasured commodity and people differentiate themselves in a variety of amusing and interesting ways.

We follow Ellis Rogers while he tries to acclimate to this Utopian society, where people’s emotions are the most dangerous obstacle to total happiness. Ellis spends most of his time thinking on religion, specifically Christianity and his personal beliefs. Personally, I believe that Hollow World is a Christian sci-fi novel. I was personally annoyed by the constant harping on the topic of Christianity and the Bible. There was enough general spirituality also discussed to help offset some of this, but in reality it is strongly entrenched in the Christian framework. What would you do as the last Christian in existence? That is the strongest secondary tone in this novel. While none of the future people actually asked him, “Who is this Jesus you speak of?”- it danced right on the border the whole time on being outright evangelical. That being said, I am fairly touchy on the subject and I may be reading more into it than is actually there.  That is why I think it would be fun to pass this book along.

So- the world-building, concept and idea are all 5-star for me. I like the characters, but not as much as the world. I would be more interested in the stories of the inhabitants, or perhaps the stories some of the pioneers who built this world and saved humanity from disaster.  The ending feels almost mournful, reminiscent of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. I would have enjoyed Hollow World a lot more if I hadn’t worried about it turning into a sermon every time I turned the page. Or was this book anti-christian since there is no God in the future? Hmmph.  Like real life, there are no easy answers.


When not taking care of my two children, husband and mini doxy, rushing here and there on the go, I can always be found reading. Fantasy of course being my favorite genre, but not the only I'll read. Oh yes, and I throw bad books.

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13 Responses to “Review: Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan”

  1. BookaholicCat

    How the hell I didn’t know about this book? I LOVE Michael J. Sullivan… LOVE HIM! He was the one who made me fall in love with the fantasy genre all over again. The Riyria Revelations series is one of my all time favorite series, I read the books and listened to the audiobooks. I have read everything he has published and that’s why I can’t believe I didn’t know about this one…. But here comes a big “but”, after reading your review I don’t know if I’m going to like this one… Why? Because of the “Christian factor”. I don’t like my books heavy on religion… Still, I will read it… I have to read it.
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  2. Nikki

    Hmmm, interesting. I’m not sure what I’ll think of this when I get round to it. On the one hand, the concept sounds interesting, but if it gets too preachy for me… I’m reasonably tolerant generally, but I get easily annoyed when it comes up in my fiction.
    Nikki recently posted…Review – The PlanetsMy Profile

    • Maggie Jones

      That is exactly how I feel. I am try to be reasonable, as long as it doens;t interfere with plot. It came up a lot in this book, but I don;t think it ruined the plot. The world concept is still fantastic, and I hope that he moves on to other people in this same world in future books, if there are any future books. This may be a one and done type deal.
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