The Tilt: Book One in the Tilt Series by M.A. Robbins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and was really excited because the premise sounded fascinating. A scientist promises unlimited energy by basically fracking into the San Andreas Fault and, of course, everything goes wrong. The world is riven by giant earthquakes that leave bottomless fissures cutting across the landscape. Now, in a post-apocalyptic Alaska, a sheriff has to fend off a Chinese invasion while suspecting the scientist might be up to his old tricks again.
Unfortunately the book went steadily downhill. Robbins has created an interesting world but never explores it. We don't learn the full effects of the tilt, nor do we get many details about society and how much technology survives. Instead we're treated to endless fight scenes. While well-written, they quickly become repetitive. Cutting out a couple would still keep this an action-packed novel while giving room for character and world development. As it is, we have cardboard characters in a two-dimensional backdrop. We also don't learn why the scientist would want to repeat the experiment that wrecked the world. Is he suicidal?
A deeper problem is the depiction of the Chinese. They are all evil, bloodthirsty, two-dimensional, and talk like Fu Manchu. It's like some Yellow Peril novel from 1905. Don't get me wrong, I'm no cringing college liberal whining about political correctness. Thugs come in all colors and it's OK to reflect that in your fiction. But when all members of a group are portrayed as menacing dangers to civilization, that's just lazy writing and you're doing real harm to real people.
It's a shame, because Robbins is a good stylist. The pacing is quick and the action scenes are well-done. With a little more thought and care this could have been a good novel. Instead it just falls flat.
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