(June 24th 2014, Disney-Hyperion)
Chevron Savano has arrived in modern London once more. But things are not as she left them. The religious order of Colonel Clayton Box is ruling Europe and North America and is enslaving millions, if not billions, of people. But that’s not Chevie’s only problem. In this timeline, she herself is a cadet in this order, brainwashed since childhood to believe that Box is a holy savior, and that he can do no wrong. Now that old Chevie and Cadet Chevie are sharing consciousness can she – with help from ally Otto and friend Riley – overcome her new-found doubts and defeat Box in the past to save the present she once knew?
The Hangman’s Revolution, I think, may have potential appeal with some readers. First and foremost, great references to pop culture (from Sauron to the Thundercats) and entertaining situations make for a fairly light read. Colfer’s writing style is suffused with a dry, casual wit that’s amusing, and a large departure stylistically from the Artemis Fowl series.
There are a couple of good characters here. Chevie, our main protagonist, is admirable in her morality and toughness, and she can, on occasion, be amusing as well. It’s great to have a main character that is from an ethnic minority (she’s Shawnee Native American) that is proud of her heritage but is not defined by it. Oft-undermined Clayton Box is also interesting. He’s a classic psychopath who’s been encouraged to behave violently from a young age and uses religion as a tool to oppress and terrorize. Fourteen-year-old martial artist-cum-magician Riley is hands-down my favorite character: he’s clever, kind-hearted, and very, very funny.
I found the plot recap from the first book confusing. Far from catching up anyone who has not read the first book, it’s likely to confuse even readers who have. Also, the plotting here is dodgy at best. The initial chapters are boring, and the alternating points-of-view (Riley in Victorian London and Chevie in present-day London) lack cohesion in a way that’s more than physical. Their storylines feel disparate, and you can never quite know where the story is going. By the finale, the plot has lost so much steam that it was genuinely difficult for me to read. Obviously, this made for a very unsatisfying ending.
The omniscient narration is jarring and unnecessary, particularly because it’s repeatedly used to follow uninteresting characters. I also felt that the writing lacked emotional resonance. It was more like the author was going through the motions rather than trying to earnestly depict human emotion. This was a real hindrance at times as it pulled me out of the story.
While I do understand that this book is a large extent a satire, it’s still true that the main characters (notably Box) are far too frequently undermined to be taken seriously. The commentary about use of religion to justify violence may be apt and timely, but doesn’t gain much traction as it’s poorly-developed and executed. Finally, the rampant use of violence feels gratuitous and again, undermines the story.
It may succeed with less discerning readers within its target demographic, but the Hangman’s Revolution’s sloppy plotting and lack of cohesion means that it’s unlikely to win over anyone else.
Get it on Book Depository.
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