Full Fathom Five

June 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm (Reads) (, )

fiveFull Fathom Five by Max Gladstone


I always expect there to be a bit of time at the start of any book for me to get into it. Sometimes it takes a handful of pages, other times it takes me a few pages; it’s the ones that take several chapters or longer that make me take pause and ask if this is something I really want to read. It’s a good thing I had read the first two books in the Craft Sequence, otherwise I would have given up on this book a lot sooner, since it took me about 200 pages to get a feel for what was going on in Full Fathom Five.

Strangely, for a book that’s part of an already-established world, clearly defined in the previous two books, this book took its time in building up the story. Looking back, there’s nothing I could identify as anything to cut; instead, the first half of the book is just straight-up boring. Gladstone creates another vivid culture, this time based on Hawaii, and includes some vivid touches that will linger with the reader (the Penitents … brrrrr), but he also makes the first half of the book about two characters going on and on about either running away (Izzy) or trying to decide what to do next (Kai). Being paralyzed by indecision is certainly a relatable characteristic, but it makes for a less interesting plot.

The central premise of the story is that the workers on Kavekana create idols into which people can invest their Soulstuff, instead of relying on the Gods. It works fairly well, until one of them dies, though not before exhibiting signs of life. See, the idols aren’t sentient; they’re barely even conscious. When Kai believes one of them has spoken to her before it dies, it sends her down a rabbit hole of mystery and intrigue.

Up until about page 250 or so, I had planned on giving this book two stars, tops, but Gladstone does manage to weave his meanderings into a decent plot that encouraged me to give it 2.5 stars, rounded up to three. Plus, this book is the chronological end of the entire Craft Sequence, and the way Gladstone concluded everything with a touch of ambiguity surprised me. On the other hand, some of his style grated on me, like the way he would use “Izzi’d” or “Kai’d” instead of “Izzi had” or “Kai had”. This wasn’t in the dialogue, nor was the narrative in the first person; it just felt too lazy and informal for the story.

So, I’m a little disappointed, though I should also note that my feelings about the entire series are lower than other readers’. Urban Fantasy doesn’t do much for me, which could be part of it, but it doesn’t have that kind of OOMPH I get from other authors and books. The stories are good, and engaging, and even progressive (I love that he puts such a focus on women, people of color, and LGBTQs for his main characters), but they don’t feel as fun to read as other stories. Your mileage may vary, and I’m not giving up on the series yet, but Full Fathom Five is the least interesting of the books so far.


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