For We Are Many

September 1, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

manyFor We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor

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I didn’t really want to read this book. I wasn’t thrilled with We Are Legion (We Are Bob), and I hadn’t planned on continuing the series, but it ended with just enough questions unanswered to compel me to keep going. I was only a few chapters into For We Are Many before I realized I had made a mistake.

We Are Legion started strong and ended with a punch or two, but the middle dragged on as Bob and his clones started moving out into the universe. It wound up having too much procedure and not enough action. Taylor remedies this problem somewhat, in giving us a nice, action-packed plot (well, one of the three or four of them, at least) in the story, but the bulk of the story is still procedure. The Bobs search, investigate, build, and modify, and then create more clones to go out and do it again. It’s for a good reason — the surviving Earthers need somewhere to go — but for the most part it’s repetitous and boring.

It doesn’t help the story that all of the Bobs have the same voice, and are all obnoxious in the same ways. It’s hard to keep track of which Bob is which, even when Taylor starts each chapter telling us which Bob is the focus and where they are. The central characters — Bob and Riker — are easy to remember, but the rest of them (and there are enough of them that Taylor included a genealogy of them as an appendix to the book) aren’t distinctive enough, either in their voice or in what they’re doing, to make their own assignments clear.

Taylor also juggles about three or four plots in the book, which makes it feel like it lacks focus. These aren’t subplots, either; they’re central to the progress of the story, but they’re all happening in different places, with different characters (and different Bobs). The number of characters and plots slow down the story, while also forcing Taylor to move quickly through the major scenes in each one. Complex stories are fine with me (hello, A Song of Ice and Fire!), but if you’re going to go that way, give them room to breathe.

For We Are Many ends with questions unanswered, too, but they feel more like a teaser ending from the middle movie of a trilogy than an “I want the reader to think about these things after the story ends” kind of ending. I’m sure I’ll read the last book (I’ve made it 2/3 of the way, so I may as well finish the journey), but I’m not looking forward to it.

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