The Gist: Former movie producer Lisa Brackman’s first novel is about a female Iraq war vet, with a bum leg and a case of PTSD to match, who gets stuck in the middle of an international conspiracy, targeted by the Chinese government and a Big Scary American Corporation just for going on a few dates with an aspiring Chinese activist.
Author: Lisa Brackman
Publisher: SoHo Press
Page Count: 345
Pages Read: 87
Does It Work? Over and over, Brackman just barely misses the mark. Her heroine, meant to be a tough-as-nails bundle of nerves, is simply irritating, and the tight spot she’s in is strangely drained of tension. The scenery—whether it’s Beijing, the Sunni triangle or an online roleplaying game—is always lush, but never enough to make up for the slightly tedious things that happen there.
Best Moment So Far: On the comforts of home: “There’s a Starbucks around here someplace. I could get a cup of coffee. I fixate on that. A cup of coffee. I’ll get a cup of coffee and try to think. But I can’t remember where the fucking Starbucks is, exactly. It’s around here. I keep walking down the street. I just need to get a cup of coffee, and I’ll be able to sort all this out.”
Odds We’ll Finish It: 10/1. This is far from a bad book—the jaunts into the videogame world are particularly promising—but it’s too hot out to be reading something that’s only “far from bad.”
Read Instead: If you’ve never read Snow Crash, there’s no time like the present. A thriller with a genuinely badass heroine, a genuinely insane plot and the most compelling virtual world ever imagined, it’s everything this book would love to be.