Review – Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

I once wrote a story that was published in an anthology. And in that anthology is a story by Seanan McGuire. And I am very proud of that.

So I’m kind of dropping names. And that the name is Seanan McGuire, and that her fame is well deserved, so I have huge respect for her and her body of work. Otherwise I wouldn’t have dropped that name. I wish I could claim to be her best friend, but I don’t even live on the same continent, truth be told.

Now that I’ve built her up, I have to be honest about Middlegame. This book didn’t reach me. It doesn’t have to. The novel was an award nominee and winner. Still, this is my review, so I’ll explain my reasons, and you can decide for yourself.

Briefly, the story is about two children, who grow to adulthood. They are constructed beings, created by alchemists. Their names are Roger and Dodger, boy and girl, who are quantum entangled and can speak to each other like talking on cell phones in their heads. The alchemists have separated them at birth (manufacturing?) because that will somehow force them to transform into The Doctrine, or the embodiment of the power of creation in the universe. That’s because the big bad guy wants to use them to control the universe.

When they start to actually become the Doctrine, they become more aware, and rebel against the bad guy, who then decides he needs to eliminate them (because he has other creations in the pipeline in case these two come out of the oven burnt).

OK, sure. I’m a fantasy fan, I can get into that.

Problem is, the world wasn’t richly developed. The Doctrine was kind of vague. How they needed to become it was equally vague. And I’m not the only one to think so. Here is a quote from the book

Dodger: It’s like playing D & D with an unprepared dungeon master . You’re the one who knows the rules to this bullshit game.

If your character says something like this, then imagine how the readers feel. I’m sure they feel the same way I did, probably more so. I felt like the story had limited world building with lots of character building. Only problem is that the character building was kind of the same thing over and over.

The beginning and middle of the story was basically the same thing repeating itself. Important characters appeared essentially for the first time in the last chapter. The bad guy was so bad, he should have curled his mustache. And the conclusion was basically what you’d expect, defeating the bad guy.

A basic story can be good if the ending is surprising yet inevitable. This one unfortunately wasn’t. I will still drop Ms. McGuire’s name. I just don’t recommend this particular title.


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